My dream is slipping away from me. I thought I owned my dream, that I could do what it takes to fulfill my dream. But now it is fading away.
Why? because I am full of fear.
My fear has paralyzed me like a deer frozen by the glare of headlights of the car heading straight for me.
What has happened? The words used to flow, I felt free when I wrote, pure and alive. I gained the confidence last year to start writing my first book. I’ve shared often and enough about why I feel I need to write this book, a memoir of a time kept alive only in my heart and mind.
Yet, as I bash away on my laptop in the telling of it another story emerges, weaving its way non-stop through the original storyline. It doesn’t change the premise of my book but it brings up more than I bargained for.
In response to Charli’s excellent post: When the Wolves give Chase, we shared a running dialogue with Irene in her just as excellent follow-up post: Writing Tips: Starting the Flow during which I discovered what is known as ‘writing into truth’.
In other words, as we excavate deeper into our writing the more it ‘writes back’ to us, revealing hidden truths, telling its own story.
This is not always easy, but it now seems plainly obvious that in the telling of my story I must tell it all because if I don’t then I am writing fearfully. And If I write with fear, then I am not writing at all. In this way, I still own my story and it won’t run away from me leaving me stranded in a crumpled heap in its wake.
Stephen King is famously quoted as saying:
‘…fear is at the root of most bad writing. . . . Good writing is often about letting go of fear and affectation.’
Writing fearlessly is as liberating and as joyful as anything I’ve ever done. Many of us know that incredible feeling when we’ve written something that we stand by, believe in as straight from our hearts, telling the true depth of that particular piece. We gain confidence when we know that our work is well received and acknowledged as such. Pure validation.
But writing isn’t always so pretty.
Blogging gave me the confidence to recently submit six of my poems to a competition but none of them placed. I know I’m not a literary poet, far from it, but I did at least try. Did it knock me back? Being totally honest, yes it did. The rejection hurt. Welcome to the world of writing, I hear you say!
There is no doubt, we have to be tough as writers. Very tough. We have to dig deep into that inner resolve to not give up, to keep going and not to become discouraged. But stupidly, I allowed the disappointment to bring me down.
This is the thing though: I wrote those poems fearlessly. They were written from a place of deep, abiding emotion, whether from grief, loss, despair or joy and love, written in the moment and shared here on my blog. So I stand by them, good, bad or otherwise.
They are my creations and I have to believe in them.
But – and it’s a big but – our creations are meant to be shared, our stories are meant to be told. I struggled with this mightily in the beginning of writing my memoir, plagued as I was with thoughts of:
‘What if nobody wants to read my book, what if it’s a load of rubbish and irrelevant and meaningless to everyone except me and maybe one or two family members?’
In the months since I started writing it, I’ve read and learnt a great deal about the memoir writing process thanks to some excellent memoir writers here in the blogosphere and I am eternally thankful for their support, input and encouragement.
What speaks to me the loudest is this: it isn’t a case of how deep and dark the story is when told fearlessly and in truth, but that it’s written well and that it brings home a powerful message of redemption.
There has to be redemption.
There also has to be a deep connection with the reader. As I progress through my story, I’m very aware I’m sharing a deeper, personal part of me than I’ve ever shared before and frankly, it scares the hell out of me. As I battle for freedom from this dilemma, I can see how this has caused my recent writing fears to escalate as I’ve descended into a downward spiral of writing negativity which has all but paralysed me.
Writing can be a lonely and isolating business and our fears are magnified because of this. For me, it is a constant battle to put these fears down and to carry on, well…fearlessly.
This presents me with a problem because lurking deep within my writing process is my bitter enemy, commonly known as ‘Self-Doubt’. I am my own worse enemy. Yet wasn’t it acclaimed author Marianne Williamson who wrote:
‘Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate.
Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure.’
I could so easily sabotage myself but if I do I’ll despise myself. What about all that talk of better to have tried and failed than never to have tried at all? Did that go flying out of the window? Meaningless hot air? No. Absolutely not.
But I don’t want to fail.
‘Owning your dream means having your belief in yourself
outweigh your fears.’ ucb
How then can we stop fear from holding us back, preventing us from achieving our goals and ultimately our dreams? Is it possible to fear rejection and success all at the same time? I wonder how many times we are forced to question our motives in our writing, especially when writing memoir.
I had to smile wryly when I came across this quote by Frank Sinatra:
‘The best revenge is massive success.’
Come on, be honest. I’m sure there are one or two people who come to mind that you’d just love to prove that to…
Sometimes I ask myself this: “Are all successful authors depressed alcoholics who love cats?” Surely not. I’m no Hemingway but darn that Black Dog. I do enjoy a drink when the occasion calls for it and I love my cats. So there it is then, but how often have we sold ourselves short? Mark Twain once said:
‘Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear,
not absence of fear.’
So courage it is then. That’s what we need, and not only for ourselves: my fears and raging insecurities keep my poor hubby up many a night. Before embarking on a writing career, a warning should be issued not to the writer but to the writer’s partner and family for those days when things are really bad:
‘Warning!! Writer at Work. Keep Out But Be There To Pick Up The Pieces At The End.’
There’s only one other way to have the ‘Victory’ as a writer and that is to keep writing, and I don’t mean to preach to the choir here, but we can’t afford to ‘Take It Easy’…
So then, in the writing of this and sharing my fears with you, dear friends, perhaps I can now see that my dream isn’t slipping away after all.
And for that I thank you, from the bottom of my heart.