musing

All posts tagged musing

Writing + Fear

Published Wednesday, May 22, 2013 by Chasing Neptune

There’s an idea in the creative writing culture that fear must be overcome, that you must be fearless to write well. I have a lot of fear, and I’ve pondered this a lot. And I’ve decided it’s bullshit. Okay, conditional.

I think that if you do not have any stress, any apprehension, any fear – whatsoever – while you’re writing, you must be doing something boring. I’ve written plenty of pieces with which I’m perfectly comfortable. The topic is approachable, the reader is well-defined, the purpose is clear. But it’s also boring. I can write about school and horses and nature all day long, but those subjects are safe. Too safe.

The true fun comes when I take a risk. By definition, a risk involves a hazard, a dangerous situation, the chance of loss. If I take a risk when I write, if I write about something personal, intimate, or metaphoric, something I know the reader will not understand properly (or maybe understand too well), I feel a bit of fear. While I write, my stomach turns and my lip curls and my fingers tap the keys quickly, as if they are burning coals. I like it. It’s fun.

Fear during the act of writing is positive. It’s energizing, validating.

But I’ll agree with the culture on the other point: the fear of starting to write is paralyzing.

This is my biggest obstacle as a writer. When I’m under obligation to write, whether it’s a deadline or a class or a promise to a friend, I can always get started. I’m one of those people who feels obligation much too strongly. But when I’m trying to write for me, I always let myself off the hook. Oh, you can totally play video games or hang out with a friend or throw the ball for the dogs – the writing will be there when you get back. But it’s never there, because I never start.

So what do I fear?

  1. Failure
  2. Sounding like an idiot
  3. Realizing I’m a horrid poet/fiction writer
  4. Losing my passion for an idea
  5. Ruining an idea with my clumsy writing

I could probably go on, but I like the number five.

I’ve tried different ways to get over this fear. I’ve made fake deadlines (but I always justify ignoring them). I’ve asked friends to pressure me (but they always fall for my justifications). I’ve tried to write crappy prose on purpose, just to start something, (but I can’t turn off my internal editor THAT much).

Once upon a time, I told myself that if I could just find out how my role model, or should I say idol?, did it, I could copy his methods and follow his advice. Well, I met my idol, and I asked him how he overcame the fear to begin writing. He told me that you just have to realize that you can do it. He said that if you can communicate, have a conversation and tell a story vocally, you can do it on paper. Logically, I realize this, but it doesn’t work for me.

I think I like the romance of  “suffering artistry” a bit too much. Many years ago, my idol also said that he found something romantic about self-destruction, or something to that effect. I can agree with him on that point, sometimes it’s kind of fun to watch everything, even yourself, burn.

But…eventually, the suffering artistry will turn to ash, and I’ll either have to pick up a pen or find another passion.

For now, I think I’ll cozy up next to the fire and write pointless blog posts.

The Next Step

Published Tuesday, May 21, 2013 by Chasing Neptune

If all goes according to plan, one year from now, I will be a college graduate. Don’t worry, I’m not going to launch into some nostalgic rant or preach about the importance of starting a new adventure. I am going to ponder what the hell I’m doing with my life, but hey, at least I won’t whine or stick my nose up.

I’ve decided to go to graduate school. It just seems like the next logical step. Even though I bitch incessantly about the stress of university, I do love it. I’m good at school. I know how to work the system, and it is a huge part of my identity. I’m not ready to give it up just yet.

So, I’ve decided to get my Master’s Degree in Writing, Editing, and Publishing. I like to write. I enjoy editing (probably because red is my favorite color, and I love feeling superior to others). And I think the publishing industry is my best chance for making a butt-load of money with an English degree. I may also be able to be a professor. I’m leaving my options open. In other words, I’ve made a decision that allows me to procrastinate making the real decision.

I think I’m just at the point in my life where the decisions are becoming irreversible. At this point, I can’t change my Bachelor’s Degrees. Luckily, I’m pleased with them. Once I get accepted into a graduate school, that decides my Master’s and, ultimately, my career.

I think I’m just a little worried that I’ll fail. I feel like I’ve been given a bow and arrow, and I have to shoot a target while blindfolded. I know the general area of the target, I’ve seen other people shoot an arrow, but I have no idea how to pull this off myself.

What if I decide I don’t want to sit around and help other writers reach their dreams? What if I try my hand at writing and realize I’m horrid or don’t love it?

I could always be a housewife. Better learn how to cook…

Oasis

Published Monday, July 2, 2012 by Chasing Neptune
Sand, rock, warm-bellied
critters – I cannot see the border
of the desert. West ended in a broken
camera lens. North ended in a wooden
cross.
South never began.
 
Dare I go East?
I do.
 
And I find it. My oasis.
 
Grass tickles up my ankles to
my belly. Palm trees lean
over me, offering shade, relief,
protection. Cool waters wash
the dust
off
      my
            bones.
 
I open my eyes. Still miles away,
my oasis, lurking against the skyline.
I take one step, smell green fronds
and fresh algae. I take two steps,
smell burnt sand and reptilian
peels.
 
Heat waves, from earth and sun,
intertwine. My oasis shimmies
and shimmers. Can I see through the air,
hot and trembling,
to my turquoise paradise?
 
Or is it merely a mirage,
as close to my hands
as it is to the horizon?

Days Eight – Twenty: Quick Catch-Up

Published Saturday, December 17, 2011 by Chasing Neptune

Thanks to finals week and other means of procrastination, I limited my daily “proud” moments to little notes in my planner. I have found that this is enough, and I am proud that I have kept my goal in mind, thus far. I am less than a month into this, and I have already been a hell of a lot more productive than I am normally. Long story short, good stuff happening here.

Eight – Charity contribution

Nine – Know where you came from (Kids of the 90s and Pop-Up video)

Ten – Make the glass half-full

Eleven – (Almost) spontaneous Halestorm concert, guts to meet rockstars

Twelve – Buckling down and taking care of the important things

Thirteen – Family time

Fourteen – A second car

Fifteen – Embodying an idol

Sixteen – Plan for the future and have faith in it

Seventeen – Value travelling

Eighteen – Connection with Grandma

Nineteen – Mama to my “little brother”

Twenty – Continue family cookie recipe

Day Two: A Tie Complex

Published Wednesday, November 30, 2011 by Chasing Neptune

This evening, I will make the completely unfounded assertion that every woman secretly loves ties – whether that be men wearing them, the sophistication and glamour behind dressing up, or even just the artistic nature of the colors and patterns. Being female, I am no exception to my declaration. For me, a great portion of this fascination has been the act of tying ties. The fluidity with which people skillfully whip the ends through their fingers, stripes and plaids and sheen knotting together, has always been one of those skills that I’ve never actually acquired.

I’m not sure when this interest first occurred to me. It’s not like I grew up watching my dad slip on a suit and tie every morning, I mean, I don’t think he’s ever even owned one. So, I can’t really blame it on nuclear family brainwashing. Maybe part of it is that idealistic 1950s housewife idea – tying a pretty bow around my trophy husband’s neck, before sending him off to make money to finance my shoe addiction. But then again, maybe it’s the fact that I’ve always longed to be punk rock enough to pull off wearing one for myself – thanks a lot for that one, Gee.

Regardless, the point is: today, I furthered my 365 day mission by finally learning to tie a tie. Now all I have to do is figure out how to pull off wearing one of the two specimens hanging idly in my closet without looking like an emo or an idiot. Hmm, another day.

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