I carry around a small, black leather purse wherever I go. It’s usually slung around my body in a Jack Bauer-esque way, swinging from side to side as I make my way from destination to destination. Inside the cotton-polyester lining of this bag are a few tubes of Burt’s Bees chapstick, a neatly folded, yet very old, square of Kleenex tissues (just in case I have an inevitable sneeze attack in public), stray bobby pins, a lone hair tie, my phone, my wallet, a book (if it’s small enough) and a pen (because I’m a writer- it’s my civic duty to carry around a pen- and my degree requires it!) Anyway, you get the point. I have my essentials in this purse; if I was dropped off in the middle of a desert with it I probably wouldn’t survive for very long, but I would have super moisturized lips and a copy of The Great Gatsby to read.
Sewn into the seams of this purse with rigid, synthetic thread are the fears I carry around as a writer. If you’re a writer and you don’t have fears about your writing, the future, your worth and talent based on your writing, or how you’re going to make a living off of writing, well, you’re probably not a writer. There are probably a few of you out there who are scoffing as you skim the next few paragraphs because you don’t have this problem and you’re just doing just fine. Well, 1. You are the exception to the rule and I offer you my sincerest congratulations. Seriously. You’ve won the great battle of being a writer and you’re going places. 2. You’re lying to yourself. You have fears, but you’ve sewn them into the carpet of a junk-filled, dimly lit closet where you never have to look at them. You know that and I know that.
Fear has made a bad name for himself or herself (or maybe it’s an animal of some kind? Whatever makes sense to you). We sometimes act like our fear as writers is some ominous cloud raining on the sunny day picnic we planned for our writing. I’m learning to accept that my fear as a writer is created solely by me and for me. It’s easy to blame a lack of writing on our fear of writing something bad or not good enough. Guys, we are feeding ourselves absolute CRAP!!! We are making fear out to be this big, bad guy waiting for us in a dark alley with a lighter up to our precious, unwritten New York Times Bestselling manuscript. I see dozens of articles on Pinterest and in books on writing that are making writer’s block an “Us vs. Fear” cage match where the only solution is to defeat fear and pin its back to the ground while a referee yells “KNOCKOUT”. Why are we fighting fear? Have you ever thought about how great it would be if a superhero joined forces with his or her nemesis? Two powerful, intelligent individuals (with superhuman powers and spandex suits) teaming up to make amazing things happen? This is no different! Join forces with your fear, embrace it, and use it to inspire yourself and your work. And even if you’re not ready to fly around with your fear or even get coffee with your fear and discuss the mundanes of life, at least open up that dark closet and acknowledge the threads of fear that are holding you back from getting a few words down on paper. I’ve chosen to sew my fear into my purse and I carry those fears around with me every day. It’s a good reminder that fear makes my life a little more exciting and unpredictable. I’m not working towards a time in my life when my fear of writing dissipates and my mind is a cauldron of inspiration and best seller ideas because that’s not real and, frankly, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Don’t mistake this pep talk of a blog post as my way of saying I’ve completely overcome making fear out to be a bad guy. Trust me, there have been and still are seasons of my life when I treat my fear of writing like a monster under my bed. Sew your fear into the seams of your life where things are falling apart. And if that doesn’t work at first, it’s 100% OK. Onward, writer friends of mine. Fear is about to become your best friend.
p.s. Welcome to my blog! I’ll see you around.