Fear is good. It keeps you safe. Fear keeps you from going down the wrong street, trusting the wrong people, taking risks that are bad for you. Fear that runs amok and takes control of your life, though, keeps you from enjoying some of the most productive and marvelous moments possible: working on your chosen craft and enjoying the fruits of your work.
Witness my inability to contribute to the Mermaid short story effort this Fall. I was silent, unable to compose even a scrap of an idea for that wonderful festival of creativity. Yes, I was trapped in a web of fear, a crawling, deadly hive of poisonous fear that kept my fingers frozen for weeks that stretched into months. Why?
Because I was silly enough to trigger a word count on my Lake Effect manuscript instead of just keeping on with the writing. Argh! I wasn’t going to finish by my self-imposed deadline! I’d failed! Again! At which point I took refuge in endless edits of material that I wrote last year, instead of taking time to reflect and re-evaluate, to mourn and then do the brave thing: work forward.
Even now, I get distracted by the details of my story. Is the father alive or dead? If I use the alternate opening for Chapter One, will it be possible to achieve the light-hearted style I’d embraced in the original? Is there a sister or not? And should Desmond and Nicole break up at the very start of the book, or should I shift that scene back to Chapter Ten (which remains suspiciously blank)? Do I need to take a break and do my makeup? Isn’t there laundry that has to be put on? How tidy does the house need to be before the plumber arrives? And, oh yeah, how about registering for the RWA Anaheim conference?
You know what that is? Uh huh. It’s my fear, taking it out in the sneaky distractions of every day life. I’m not going to see anyone today, I have clean clothes, the plumber already called and said he can’t be here until next week, and Anaheim isn’t sold out. Stop making excuses, girl, and get back to work!
Do you make excuses? I do. Let’s share and see if we can unsnarl the distractions and excuses we make to justify not getting our work done.