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Writing With Fear

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Hello! I'm experimenting with blogging every day. Because I'm very new to this, I need your help. Please take a minute to drop me a line and let me know what you think. I will post stories, thoughts, and possibly recipes (if I'm having an off day). Here's the post for today.

It's hard to talk about your fears publicly. We are supposed to be strong and fearless. Otherwise, what did our mothers and grandmothers fight for, right? But something interesting happened to me today while I was doing my daily meditation. I've had an annoying headache for days. Today, when it was time to notice my feelings, I realised that what I felt was scared. And as soon as I named it, the headache was gone.

What am I scared of? It took me the rest of the morning to figure it out. I'm scared that the people I love will be gone. I mean, I know in my head that someday they will be gone. I know that death is a part of life and is inevitable. But that doesn't help me to feel less afraid of that moment.

I'm scared of other things as well. My biggest fears as a writer are a) that no one will ever read what I write, and b) that writing will cause me to lose myself or become someone else. The first one is fairly obvious. From talking to other writers, I can estimate it's a common fear among us. The second fear might need a little more unpacking.

When I think about being changed by writing, I think about the link between creativity and mental illness. I fear that letting my creative side out of the "basement" will entail a breakdown of my tightly held life and the logical, scientific brain I have worked so hard to cultivate. I don't think I'll have a psychotic breakdown (famous last words), but I do fear I'll start wearing shawls and say things like, "let the Muse guide you". My carefully cultivated scientific brain scoffs at people who wear shawls and believe in muses with a capital M. Even if they are great authors.

In other words, I worry that if I become an artist, I will have to change the way I live and the way I think. Instead of my current bourgeois life (comfortable, middle-class, privileged), I will have to leave my kids behind and move to a closet-size mouldy apartment in Hackney. I LOVE Hackney, by the way. I can feel the muse in the bricks of the buildings there.

So, to summarise, I'm scared that the people I love will be gone, and I'm scared that I will be gone. Talk about clichés.


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