Every once in a while, reading a book/blog/other article on writing, I’ll come across an exercise where the author encourages readers to list their fears regarding writing.
I’ve never paid much attention to these, because they sound suspiciously like fluffy psycho-babble pep-talks, having nothing to really do with writing, which is what I’m interested in. To be fair, I’m sure it’s relevant… we all have our insecurities, and I’ve heard many published authors state over and over again that these insecurities don’t magically vanish upon publication, even if the work is successful. There’s always the wonder… was it a fluke?
Today I was perusing one of these books, and I came across the fear exercise. What the hell. Perhaps it was boredom, but I decided to indulge the author and do the exercise.
Surprisingly, I discovered something I wasn’t conscious of.
My list had the usual suspects… fear that my work won’t be good enough, or that even if it is, it won’t be successful. Fear of letting down those who have faith in me, and variations on the above themes. But while those fears did have some marginal basis in my psyche, I then added something to the list that rang so true, I felt as though some internal string had been plucked.
The project I’m working on now is one I’ve been trying to tell, in one form or another, for over ten years. The underlying theme is very personal to me, a sort of absolution, I suppose. I’ve finally found an incarnation that feels genuine… but I can’t quite seem to finish it. Today I think I realized why.
I’m afraid that this is the only story I have to tell.
Irrational? Maybe. Real? Very much so. See, I’ve tried to come up with other stories. There are plenty of ideas, but none have taken root because I’m all tied up in this story. I can’t become engaged in anything else, because I only have eyes for what I’m working on now. Perhaps I have to write this story before anything else is possible. But the thought continues to nag at me… what if this is It?
What if there’s nothing else?