The long road


There have been some amazing posts across the interwebs of late – posts about the dark side of this biz. The emotional side.

Natalie Whipple’s inspirational post about her struggles. Or Beth Revis’ post about some of the feelings she wrestles with daily.

I know from my conversations with my own CPs and writerly friends that this biz is not for the faint of heart. It demands everything from you emotionally. Everything.

And maybe that’s okay.

Maybe it’s okay that we get to experience difficult emotions as we struggle to decide if we were meant to stay on this path.

Maybe the tears we shed are okay.

Maybe it’s okay that we have to come to terms with some of the more difficult aspects of who we are -

The part that gets jealous. The part that doubts and fears deeply. The part with no confidence in our own abilities.

Maybe it’s through the experiencing of these emotions that we find our deeper creative selves.

Maybe.

What do you think?

Best Advice EV.ER


Okay, so I had this fab post all written for today and yea…this isn’t it. Instead  bring you the best advice EV.ER…

As most of you know, I spin. A LOT. Meaning, I get stressed about really stupid stuff and have a hard time letting it go. (See the real reason I wrote EMOTIONAL INTENSITY!)

Enter my writerly BFF…

She always knows how to put be back together when I’ve managed to break myself. This was her saying to me (taken from a future cookie, no less) -

Fear is just excitement in need of an attitude adjustment

Is that perfect or what? It’s my new mantra I think.

How do you put yourself back together again when stress (or life) gets the better or you?

Walking THROUGH Fear…and other writerly musts


First off, I want to say THANK YOU to the fabulous people who stopped by yesterday to meet Beth – you guys are awesome!!  

Next, today’s post: Walking THROUGH fear (no matter what demons lurk in the shadows)

It is no secret that I chat with my online writerly buds. A Lot.  Some times we talk about our latest works in progress, book dealings, that sort of thing.

But most of the time, we wind up talking about….FEAR! 

That’s right, we talk about what we are freaking out over, what the monsters we deal with look like, why they are our monsters to begin with. No matter we start off talking about, it pretty much always comes back to this.

I think it is just an aspect of the creative personality – that tendency to live life in extremes. And with extremes, comes fear. Every.Single.Time.

But here’s the thing, while fear itself is no big deal…we all experience it…you can’t let your fear STOP YOU from achieving your goals.

So whether it’s finishing that first (or second, or fifty-third) novel, submitting that piece of flash fiction into a contest, querying agents, or anything else…..

YOU MUST GET PAST YOUR FEAR AND DO IT!

JUST DO IT!!!

After all, nothing ventured, nothing gain…right??? You do no one any good by stopping short of your goals due to fear – least of all yourself!

How do you conquer your fear?

Blog Chain: A Lesson in Fear!


BLOG CHAIN

 

It’s Blog Chain time again.  Kat started this round with a great question in honor of Halloween: 

 

What are the primary fears that drive your characters? Do they battle aliens or gangsters or monsters? Or do they battle unreconciled issues in their lives? Which do you prefer writing about? What do you fear?

I have to say I LOVE this question.  My whole life has really been about learning to cope with fear and making the conscious decision to move through fear as opposed to being paralyzed by it. 

As a result, my characters must face their fear as well. 

In the Chaos Within, the main character Julie literally faces an embodiment of every single thing she fears – and she does so in a world that automatically materializes everything she is thinking about.  So yeah – it is a fear-fest.  The challenge for her is learning to let go of that fear and recognize it for the illusion that it is.  Books 2 and 3 in the series are also about facing one’s fears, but in a less internalized way, as the main character battles paranormal beings that force her to repeatedly face her opinions of fear and decide whether or not fear is an illusion.

Lacrimosa is a good versus evil story.  Fear is not as central to the storyline as it is in the Chaos Trilogy, but the MCs certainly face their fear of loosing each other, loosing their love, and loosing everything that makes them better than the Evil in the story.  Ultimately they have to confront their own ideas of love, duty, redemption and forgiveness, as well deal with the choices they make – many of which are driven by fear.

I write Urban Fantasy and Paranormal stories.  And even in my short stories that are more of the Chick Lit variety, my characters always explore the fear that lives deep inside us all.  Sometimes that fear may take the form of a monster, the devil, or something external.  More often than not it is internal, as they face whatever it is the fear the most in order to survive whatever journey they find themselves on.

Now, the last part of the question – what do I fear?  I have done many posts on fear.  As I said earlier in this post, as well as in those, I have lived my life learning to walk through the things that scare me the most.  In that respect I am definitely the type to face things head on – regardless of how scary they are.  Some may call that brave.  And I guess it is.  But for me, I know no other way to do things.

That is not to say I am not afraid.  When my husband nearly died of a brain aneurysm I can guarantee you that I was afraid.  When I hospitalized my ten-month-old daughter for respiratory distress, I stayed up all night afraid.

And when I am by myself in the middle of the night, gripped with a fear so profound it coats my tongue, there is no doubt that I am afraid.  I just choose to not let that fear define me.  So I find my own strength – and I reach out to my friends and take a little of theirs – and I face the fear – whatever it is.

Perhaps this quote summarizes it best for me:

Death is not the biggest fear we have; our biggest fear is taking the risk to be alive — the risk to be alive and express what we really are. – Don Miguel Ruiz

Each day I strive to life an authentic life – to not, as Walden would have said, get to the end of my days and discover I had never really lived.  So I face my fears, and move through them in whatever way I can.

Now it’s your turn…what are you afraid of?  How does fear play into your storylines?

For more from us on this great topic, check out Kat’s post before me and Sarah’s post tomorrow.

My Dance with Fear


cliff (2)I hiked up a jagged cliff in my dreams last night, compelled to move forward by an overwhelming since of dread. My whole body shook from the physical strain of climbing the rock face. Sweat dripped from my brow as I pushed myself further, ignoring the pain shooting up my legs.

I reach the top of the plateau, but my fear refused to abate. The landing was narrow – barely enough room to turn. On one side, the jagged rack face I’d just climbed changed.  The footholds smoothed away – along with any ability to descend it.  In front of me was a short ledge of rock and granite.  It hung over an endless pit.
There was only one way off the ledge, and as my brain understood what would happen next, my body quivered with fear.  

I eased onto the ledge of the cliff and peered into the great hole. I knew what I had to do.

But I couldn’t.

Fear had paralyzed me, turning my legs to stone. I stood, my too-loud heartbeat hammering against my chest.  The air stuck in my throat as my lungs desperately tried to suck in life.

I couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think, couldn’t move.
My mind reeled into focus, pushing against the panic that crept alongside me. I must take action – any form of action. The options weighed on me, crushing what was left of my courage.

Should I jump? Should I try to descend the sheer face of the mountain?

Or should I stay, lulled into inaction by my own terror.

An answer surfaced through the murky waters of my thoughts.

I edged closer to the ledge, fighting my own body, forcing it to comply with my wishes. I swallowed down the bile lodged in my throat, wiped my brow and jumped – floating on the wind as I descend into the abyss.

The dream is always the same – repeating repeating repeating through the years. It is my journey through fear.
I woke, restless and disturbed.

Fear had left its mark on me, tossing my mind around as the image of my descent filters into my conscious awareness.

I thought through the dream and my terror, analyzing it from every angle. The action released my tension and my thoughts became clear. I recognized the source of the fear, the meaning behind the emotion. I directed my thoughts.  Relabeled my feelings.  Regained control over my life.

And so my dance with fear continues, prodding me into action, compelling me to move forward.  It has been this way forever – a push and pull between the things I want to do and my fear.

Fear used to control the dance, lulling me into inaction. It wrapped me in arms of quiet discontent and frustration, begging me to stay frozen in time.

That was before.

 I control the dance more often now – staring at my partner in disbelief. Fear can not hide itself from me anymore. I recognize all of its faces –

rationalization

discontent

complacency

depression

anxiety

Fear is not my foe anymore.  I welcome it as a reminder to act.  A reminder to live.

I do this dance whenever change occurs – though I control the outcome now.  And I push forward, through all that I am afraid to do.

And so, as I tend to the things that surfaced this dream to begin with, I will take a couple of days to catch up with life.  I leave you with my favorite quote.  

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

I will be back on October 1 with new posts and my new blog.  Until then, I ask you – Do you dance with Fear?

40 Days of Gratitude, Day 10: Through the Eyes of Fear


Happy Friday everyone. I hope this week has been good. Today I’m reflecting on the power of gratitude to end fear.

“When you are grateful, fears disappear and abundance appears” – Anthony Robbins

 

As most of you know, I spend my days working with children between the ages of about 11 and 15 as an educational psychologist. Most days are spent dealing with issues of fear: fear as it relates to friendship, fear as it relates to school performance and fear as it relates to taking risks. This fear is so impacting that some of my children can’t seem to make it school consistently, let alone last all day. With the increased stressors in our society, many of my students are confronted with a paralysis related to fear that makes achievement almost impossible to be had. We focus our work on figuring out how to push through these feelings and develop resiliency. In effect, I have to show them how to confront their fear and face their own shadows. As these children begin to believe that they are able to push through the things that scare them the most, they begin to see their own personal power emerge.

I have found that all it usually takes to achieve this goal is to help children switch their thoughts from feelings of inadequacy to feelings of gratitude for the skills they do posses. This simple shift is usually enough to lessen the fear and begin to face it. When this finally clicks…WOW! There is nothing greater than when a child you have spent hours with over many years finally learns to push through their own fears without me…This is the REASON I am willing to spend hours at my job…just for these kinds of moments.

So to all of my children on the journey of figuring out the power of a grateful heart and the power within themselves to conquer all that they fear…I AM THANKFUL FOR YOU.

Because of these children I get daily reminders of the value of gratitude.

 

Later tonight I will be posting about motivation and character development. Happy writing this weekend.

Jumping in to the deep end – head first…


Last week I started a few projects that are a real stretch for me – something that will take me out of my comfort zone.  In contemplating these new endeavors, and my excitement (and fear), I thought about the meaning of risk, fear and courage.   

Life is riddled with things we could choose to be afraid of and risks we either should or should not take.  Nothing new, right…why then would I waste anyone’s time writing about these things?  Well, the answer lies in my belief about these things.

Paul Tillich and Rollo May, two authors I read a lot of in college, wrote in their respective works (The Courage to Be and The Courage to Create) that living a life full of meaning takes a deep level of courage – a willingness to look deep inside, face whatever fears are present and dare to be your authentic self.  May, in particular, stated that creation was one of the ultimate acts of courage, requiring the creator to place himself in front of the world in a highly visible and somewhat vulnerable way. 

This idea applies to writing as well.  As writers, we write stories which, whether we mean to or not, often reveal deep parts of ourselves.  We then place these stories in front of other writers to critique, agents and publishers to judge, and our readers to evaluate.  It is a risky business to be sure.

Why then do we do it?  For me, it is because it provides me an opportunity to reach out of my comfort zone and plunge head first into something new – it gives me an opportunity to find the authentic self and create from that sacred space.

For 2009, challenge yourself to reach out of your comfort zone and do something new.  When you find yourself convinced that you can’t do something, reach into the eternal well of courage and do it anyway…find pleasure and excitement in the courage it took to do something new.

What new and exciting things will you do today?

Please let me know how it goes…I love hearing from people.