Last entry I blogged about fear and writing. Craig wasn't sure what I was afraid of, so I decided to write a little more about it today. No I don't have a creepy guy in a black hat stalking me, like poor Johnny Depp's character in Secret Window.
In my case, the fear is less tangible, but it is a part of my writing process. I've come to learn, however, that not all writers experience it. Like a lot of fears, it isn't rational but that doesn't make it less real to me.
Almost every time I write I'm scared of trying to get what's in my head, down in words. It's not worrying I can't be good (although I've had those moments too). It's that I'm afraid of the monumental task of piecing the story together so that it works to my satisfaction. When I sit down to write, there is so much that is unknown, and I'm the one who has to face that unknown, alone. There are always a huge pile of problems to be solved, and most of the time, I worry that I won't be able to solve them. I want to solve them. I want to find the story and get it down in such a way that it resonates with other people. The fact that I've solved countless similar problems in past writing sessions rarely reassures me.
I've been writing fiction for the better part of a decade now, and it's clear to me that this fear is just part of my process. If I want to write and tell stories, I have to accept that I'm going to be afraid a lot of the time. I think it's worth it, but that doesn't make it easy.
And I'm not alone. Here are some quotes from that book I mentioned in my last entry The Courage to Write by Ralph Keyes, "Page Fright" section (p. 24).
All my life, I've been frightened at the moment I sit down to write.
—Gabriel Garcia Marquez
It's really scary just getting to the desk—we're talking now five hours. My mouth gets dry, my heart beats fast. I react psychologically the way other people react when the plane loses an engine.
I suffer as always from the fear of putting down the first line. It is amazing the terror, the magics, the prayers, the straightening shyness that assails one.
Blank pages inspire me with terror.
See? I'm not the only 'fraidy-cat writer in the world! Wouldn't it be great if Queen Latifa from Stranger than Fiction could come and give us all some moral support? Sadly, that's not something I can count on so I guess I'll just face my fears, and write anyway.