Monday, September 14, 2009

Writing what scares us

I had nightmares again last night. This morning, I woke up with a lump lodged in my throat so I couldn't swallow.

I'm terrified of what I am writing.

I'm superstitious so I can't really talk about a novel in progress, but the central thorny, dark issue of this novel-in-the-works seems so real to me that I feel unnerved. I know it is magic thinking on my part and that writing about it won't make it happen, but I cannot shake the terror. A writer friend said that she recognizes this process, that is also happened to her (and what a knockout novel she produced because of it) and that "maybe we need to write about the things that scare us" and I'm thinking she's right.

I've intentionally written about things that have unnerved or scared me before--the crippling asthma of my youth, the sudden death of a loved one, long and mysterious illness--but those were all things that had already happened to me (but again, maybe that is magic thinking to imagine they could not happen again.) This though, feels new and raw and overwhelming. And the only thing I can think to do about it is to continue to write. And write. And write.


Clea Simon said...

oh, sweetie, big big hugs!!!

You have often listened as I've told you about my nightmares, so you know I know how you feel. But I am certain - completely certain - of something: You are such a wonderful writer, you're like a heat-seeking missile. You instinctively go toward the painful heart of life and explore it. Not fearlessly -because you are experiencing the fear now - but with fearless writing. That's why your books are so good and so moving and so real. Whatever is in your book will stay in your book - not in your life. But because you have such an unerring sense of what is important, what scares us, what is realy, your new book will be important and valid and true.

Big hugs. Keep writing. You are so brave!

Elspeth Futcher said...

Confronting fear (whether old or new) makes us stronger. It makes us more confidant in our future and capable of being braver in our decisions.

Congratulations on walking out onto the tightrope. Bravery is always rewarded.