A Cascade of Fear

A good friend of mine, Savannah George (www.dsavannah.com), posted a great piece on fear today.  She is a wonderful writer and a world class editor.  I suggest you click the link and read her post. It’s about getting rid of fear and the stifling effects it has on us.  The concept came to her after she had spent some time online with a friend who said he wasn’t afraid of anything.  From him, to her, to me.  Kind of a fire brigade with the topic of fear in the bucket. Hey!  It’s 5AM and metaphors have never been my strong point in writing.

Although I agree with Savannah’s concept and that fear can have devastating effects, I’m not sure I want to rid my life of fear.  In some ways I’ve turned fear into motivation.  Just after I read her post a fellow writer posted a comment in a writer’s forum about being afraid that her words were eloquent enough and her plot had already been written.  I remembered those same feelings from when I started writing my first book.

I sat there in front of my typewriter – the one at the top of this page – and stopped writing.  Fear had tied my hands.  Fear that I was not good enough to write a book. For a long time I just sat and stared at the mechanical beast, lost in self-ctitical thoughts. I wasn’t coming up with anything unique.  The plot I had was about a young adult and his father and friends.  It was just another YA novel. A clone of thousands of other novels already on the shelves.  Why go on?

Fear is like water. It finds its way in, no matter what. The fear that started to rise in my head was the fear of not living up to what I had said I could do. Wasn’t it better to write a shitty book than to have not written one at all? A fear of failure started me thinking.

I thought of the millions of songs and books that men and women have written. Isn’t that amazing. Relatively speaking we have no new words or notes, yet we keep throwing them together and coming up with something new. In retrospect, it was fear as motivator that made me put my fingers back on the keyboard and type.  Soon I became more afraid that I would let the ideas I had in my mind evaporate than I was of righting a bad book.  Three hundred thousand words later I had completed my first novel.

It is still unpublished.  It kind of sucks.  But it has a glowing premise and some great characters. If I hadn’t spent the months writing that first book, I wouldn’t have attempted SYN:FIN.  And SYN:FIN is a good book even if I say so myself.

What I’m getting at is that fear has two sides.  It can make you freeze at the presence of a threat or it can motivate you to run long and hard to find escape.  Fear was one of the reasons we started to run and kept running. From our response to fear, we developed one of the most powerful weapons in our arsenal – the ability to run long distance.  That ability is arguably the reason we are what we are today – all full of imagination and melody.

I’m OK with fear because I have a greater fear of standing still than I have of moving forward.  Hmm?  I wonder if that is the definition of ADD?

Thoughts?  Don’t be afraid to post your comments.  I don’t bite. Much.

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10 thoughts on “A Cascade of Fear

  1. I agree. In fact, there has been scientific research that suggests that a low level of fear and anxiety can motivate us to do great things. Not phobic, crippling fear. That’s a different beast.

    I usually acknowledge my fear without pandering to it, and then do what I need to do, despite it. Sometimes it is propulsion to move forward.

    • If you channel that adrenalin rush the right way it could be useful. It gets you going although I don’t think it lasts a long time. Kind of like a sugar high. It is great that you have a way to face that low level fear and redirect it.

  2. JL – I’m glad my post inspired your post! And you are so right! Fear can be used as a tool to motivate you to succeed, or can be the impetus for you to move forward, regardless of the end result. Sometimes the *doing* is just as important as what you generate.

    • Savannah, thank you for putting the thought out there. You are such a good writer and convey difficult concepts with grace and style. I’m glad that our posts compliment each other.

  3. I understand your point here, but I’m one of those that becomes paralyzed by fear. I would be good if an animal was thinking about attacking me as I understand standing still is the best defense (just kidding). I admire those that find fear motivating.

    Good post – now I’m off to read dsavannah’s – thanks for sharing.

    • That is a very important point, Christina. Fear is not pervasive in our lives and we have great motivation and purpose in those areas where it does not reside. I always appreciate your comments!

  4. Pingback: Tall Tale Tuesday: Kick the Can « Ellie Ann

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