“If you go into the cave of your fear, you will find your power.”
It is a Sufi proverb, I think.
For the last several weeks I have been holding free sessions with established writers and ones who want to become established. A common theme resonating in the writing dialogue I am honored to be engaged in is that many of us are afraid of saying the wrong thing. Thing is a very wrong word and I just said it. It is vapid, doesn’t delineate anything – God, look at that hackneyed crustacean of a word, too; yet we use it a lot (there’s another horrible grouping) and tend to survive. It’s akin to this: it doesn’t mean a thing; or, you know the thing is, or another thing he/she does is _____. Thing really nails it, huh?
You get the mottled picture. So, what we are attempting in these sessions is to find our fear, establish it and then try to let it fly away. But, as we all know, fears can rise up again and again. Writers are always afraid of saying the wrong thing, painting the wrong picture, or perhaps not even writing at all. It is part of the complexity that makes us artists. So fears are like large spiders to me. I tend grimace and look away from them when they are shockingly shown on TV as they bring up fantastical childhood movies about large spiders invading the earth and killing people and animals. Those suckers have been demonized for as long as I can recall. A flashed image of the hairy beast can send me running in jiggly wigglies into the next room. The have resided in my brain as a phantom fear for ages.
They aren’t bad. It’s my attitude toward them. It’s my darkened perception. Mythic images of Ariadne drum in me and I can’t see past the revulsive way in which they have been portrayed in books and film. What now. I’ve got fearful writers. Bad words. Bad groupings of words. And, now we are onto a childhood fear of spiders.
Here’s the point. Fears are a part of our genetic make up our DNA holds the space for these astral suckers. Sometimes, the harder we try, the more the fear will rear its small or large head. It can crawl under our skin and sprout large tendril-like legs in our mushy brains.
So, write about them. Write why you are afraid. Make one of your characters afraid of something. Establish your fear as a symbol – like a spider – and let its filaments flesh in a scene of irony or deception. The shadow (fearful) side of any character makes a reader WAY more interested in it. When we write about our fears, regardless of what they are, it makes the reader more intent on who or what the situation is. Fears always make us better writers. Readers love the shadow side.
So, go ahead. Be afraid. Then write about it. Your power will be revealed. I promise.
Call me or email me and let’s talk about it or them. It won’t cost you a thing.