Facing Fear

Fear and Writing in New Mexico

I had a longer post for today. About facing your fears.   I think it had a lot to do with my MFA program where there were many things I was surprised about, but the main one that we were a group of people who came together to write, yet people were afraid to try new things. I thought it was the perfect time, three years to explore the craft, to learn and try new things, to explore everything about writing. But no, there was a prescribed way of writing that people subscribed too and the more I fought to explore, the more alienated I became. I was called into meetings with professors, called a ‘maverick’ and trouble maker out of one side of his mouth, while out of the other a professor said that’s what will make me the one who makes it as a writer. But in the meantime, he wanted nothing to do with me, boat rocker that I was, because he couldn’t understand my evolution. Some of my fellow students (mainly the fiction writers, not the poets, thankfully.) saw this and decided to avoid me as well, writing notes on my stories not that the story was weird, but that I was.   They exiled me from the fiction ‘clique.’

And that was a good thing.

Because I think to grow in your art you have to not be afraid of it. To grow in life you have to not be afraid of it.

It’s so easily, especially in writing, to become isolated and afraid. To sit there and look out a window and say you’re writing the world so don’t need to be part of it. It’s so tempting to not engage in anything new because ‘this works for me.’

And there’s nothing wrong with finding your style, with sticking with your style. I have a style I write.  But there’s something I don’t buy about staying static.  About being a writer who isn’t curious.

Because, see, to grow- both in art and life- I think you need to see what you’re afraid of and then face it. You need to push past where you’re comfortable. You need to not create thinking about the negative people will say, but letting things happen. Show your characters, and yourself in all their glory.  And always seek out something new.  Always explore.

That’s my writerly suggestion for the week. Do something in life you’re scared of, even if that’s a social situation or talking to a stranger. Maybe it’s an exercise class (those on Facebook got a blurb about a Pilates class I took at a trapeze school this week, oh the pain in that one).

Write something that makes you shake as you type.

Then come and tell me how it went.

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