Fear Is a Zombie — It’ll Eat You Alive

zombie-photos-3I don’t know about you, but zombies top my fear list. I mean come on, hideous undead creatures who want nothing more than to suck the marrow out of your bones while you’re still alive?

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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Lisa Alber is the author of KILMOON, A COUNTY CLARE MYSTERY (March 2014). Ever distractible, you may find her staring out windows, dog walking, fooling around online, or drinking red wine with her friends. Ireland, books, animals, photography, and blogging at Lisa Alber's Words at Play round out her distractions. Visit her at www.lisaalber.com.

16 thoughts on “Fear Is a Zombie — It’ll Eat You Alive

  1. Congratulations at being picked for Noir at the Bar! That sounds like a ton of fun. Facing your fears, whether rational or irrational, is something I will definitely raise a glass to.

  2. Noir at the Bar sounds like tons of fun! Congratulations on being chosen! You’re going to be great.

    And you’re so right about passion winning out over fear. It’s how we know we want it bad enough.

  3. I want to go to Noir at the Bar!!!! Lisa, sounds like you like to throw down as hard as I do. We must make this happen some time. 🙂

    As for first speaking engagement–I’ve had LOTS and LOTS for teaching type stuff, but my first about writing my book will be in two weeks in front of an auditorium of 300 8th graders who are starting a unit on historical fiction. Though I’ve taught high school, I’m TERRIFIED. lol. 8th graders are a tough audience. But I’m hoping the passion wins out, like you said!

    • Oh yeah, we must throw down — we’d have a blast!

      Eighth graders! Now that’s putting your passion to the test! 🙂 I’m sure you’ll win them over.

  4. FEAR- False Evidence Appearing Real
    FEAR – F*%k Everything and Run
    I tend to got with option #2, but yeah, when it comes to writing, gotta stand our ground. If I can do a public reading, anyone can. I mean, anyone. You will be awesome. I’m with Meco. Let us know!

    • Love that! I’m the second too … Sometimes I’m surprised I’ve held out this long with the writing. Periodically, I gear myself to quit at some future point. Last weekend, I was thinking after Kilmoon comes out … but … We’re nutso!

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