That’s just nasty.
Fear is kinda the same thing. It lurches about within us, inhabiting the dark, festering corners of our minds, ready to munch on us a little here and a little there until one day we realize that we’re limping along in our lives, scarred over and in pain.
The thing about fear is that it doesn’t stand a chance when you’ve got passion on your side. When you want something enough, you will face your fears. I truly believe this. And if you don’t want, you won’t. As an example, I’m never going to face my fear of heights because I could care less about jumping out of planes or climbing rock faces. So, no thank you. I’m fine with that fear.
But what about my fear of exposure? By this I mean displaying my true self for all to see, analyze, malign, ridicule, and reject if they so desire. And nothing could be more soul-bearing than the writing life. During my first workshop, I was so terrified to read my little writing exercise aloud that I thought I was going to pass out.
But passion won out. I did it.
After hundreds of workshops and critiques, I no longer stress about presenting my crappy first drafts. (Lesson there.) Then there came Elizabeth George, my hero, who asked me to write a short story for her anthology — a story she’d be editing. I almost went into a paralytic brain freeze at the thought of writing for her and writing to order.
But passion won out. I did it.
There were the agent one-and-ones at conferences. Agent-hunting in general. My first official KILMOON novel reading — complete basketcase — and now there’s publication itself. There’s the next novel sitting out there too. It’s all exposure. It’s me putting myself out there in the world. All me.
But passion wins out. I’m doing it.
And just yesterday, an Anthony-award winning author asked if I’d participate in Portland’s first Noir at the Bar.* It’s still that public-speaking thing, but more than that, I’ll be with four male writers of splashy, fun, noirish fiction — I mean, my god, I don’t know if my stuff will fit in and I’m the only girl! They all have way more writing and reading experience than I do. It’s going to be a raucous, drinking crowd. I’m terrified and intimidated. Really I am. My stomach is knotting up as I write this.
But passion wins out. I’ll do it.
Conquering our fears isn’t only about passion, of course, but passion can get you into a therapist’s office or on a date or writing your first sentence. Passion leads us where we’re meant to be, and over time it can mend the ravages of fear. Passion can cure the zombie within.
What’s the zombie in your life?
*What is Noir at the Bar? It is occasional gatherings of writers, readers, and crime fiction enthusiasts at bars in New York City, Los Angeles, and other cities. I’m not sure where it started, but it’s spreading like an infectious laugh.
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