It has been a year since I began this blog, one year and 93 posts to be exact. For almost half this period I was fortunate enough to have Alison and Kay adding their thoughts. Now we each have our own blogs, I have a website, am still struggling with media (getting boring), and we are hoping to be published by the end of the mid-year school holidays. (YEH) I am sitting here now wondering as I write where did the fear go that for so long has held things back? Is it truly gone or has it morphed into something new I am yet to identify?
In the face of so much accomplished through hard won positivity, the knowledge gained along the way from other bloggers and writers, and the support of those special people that actually read my posts and keep me going, I can’t see fear ever rearing its ugly head in those epic proportions again. A little is reasonable, sensible even because it pushes the adrenalin to the action zone but we all know what too much fear can do to our dreams. My approach these days to this emotion is much more laid back. I understand the word more, I understand myself more and it makes a difference.
Blogging has been an incredibly eye-opening experience and good for my confidence. I don’t know how many people are actually reading what I write, I don’t know how my novels will go when finally released and yet I am not as fazed by it all as I have been. I have to be honest and say I have my moments. Different events bring them to the foreground. It can’t be helped as day to day living makes demands we often doubt we can live up to. I have however come to the conclusion fear is just a little word and I have been giving it more importance than it deserved.
More fool me for not recognising that giving in means losing power, and why would anyone want to give so much power to such a small word?
Fear when approached through thoughtfully gained perspective is actually an impetus to the process of gaining wisdom. Consider for a moment what you have done as well as what you haven’t done and ask yourself, how much those decisions were influenced, controlled, directed, or lead by fear and our relationship with fear. Is fear our fuel to burn on the road to succeeding or the rope to pull us backwards and away from success? This is a very important question because it determines the quality of the outcome. It is both depending on us, and only us.
In a recent post Mareo McCracken advised us to treat fear as a tool and to use it to lead us to success rather than let it put us into a state of frozen animation. As a tool Mareo thought it worthy of a name. He calls the tool WISE. Does this sound a little confusing? Trying to explain it to myself was hard but trying to explain it to an audience – well, it isn’t easy but I do think it is important enough to warrant trying. There are so many of us that allow ourselves to be held back by fear. Instead that very same thing could be driving us forward. If we manipulate fear as we would a tool, and not allow it to be the emotion capable of paralysing us, then we gain the wisdom to forge ahead to find our destiny. WISE the tool, in an acronym form, is a mighty weapon of absolute common sense.
W: Welcome The Fear
I: Interrogate The Fear
S: Separate The Fear
E: Employ The Fear
Do you see what I mean about common sense? It makes sense to welcome fear. Remember the saying – keep your friends close but your enemies closer. Fear is our enemy. Growing up I thought that was a very strange saying. Now I know better. When you welcome fear you get to know it. You understand the unpredictability of its striking power because getting to know fear helps you recognise the triggers. Even better is the fact that having welcomed fear you have earned the right to question, to interrogate until you are armed with enough information to be able to separate the fear into small better-defined chunks. Like trying to eat the proverbial elephant, we can only eat one bite at a time. Small chunks can be dealt with easier and more successfully. We can then take these chunks and employ them to push us where we want to go. We use the adrenalin to spur us on. This discussion reminded me of a book I hold dear despite its age. It is called Feel the Fear and do it Anyway by Susan Jeffers. In it she talks about turning fear and indecision into confidence and action.
Having said all this I have to admit this last week I had my fears pay a visit. On receipt of a much needed and very welcome final edit, for uploading purposes, some of the comments have proceeded to send me into frenzy. The suggestions were good but I had two very different people reading in two very different ways. At this stage I had not expected so many comments on the characters and their behaviours. Who do I listen to because in amongst it all, my gut feeling is telling me the direction I want to take, is the right one to get where my characters need to go? They are like children not yet old enough to leave home and need my guidance; I gave birth to them after all. I am writing a series and although each one will be a stand alone, my original characters continue all the way through and will continue grow and expand. Now I am doubtful about my instincts with my characters. I have two choices, make the changes or follow my gut.
Don’t get me wrong. I have no problems with the idea of reviews or criticism. I fully expect comments concerning style, structure, the grammar, the spelling, the character development – the list is endless. Likewise in other areas whether it be the film industry, art in general or even simply the clothes we wear there is a genuine need for outside input that we should welcome. This is how we improve. However it is hard to know what to do in the face of someone questioning the direction of your characters, not their development but their direction. I struggle with changes that affect the essence. It’s my weakness not just in my writing but in life in general.
It doesn’t take much to trigger our fears and this week seems to have been my week for it. Last Thursday I went to the theatre with a friend to see a play based on Wuthering Heights, one of my all time favourite classics. The result wasn’t pretty. I was horrified at the complete disregard of the elements in the novel that are the essence of the story. On stage Cathy became a shrill witch whilst Heathcliffe seemed totally devoid of personality. Where was that wild, confused, and too often perverse love these two characters have exuded for well over two centuries? Sometimes love is bewildering, all-consuming and its effects, erratic. I left at interval not having the stamina to see something I have long loved misrepresented by words and the delivery of them.
I remember feeling the same way about the film The Thorn Birds. Both script and actors failed to show the torment of a heart divided. I know full well that a script can’t contain every aspect of the plot. Time constraints, setting, events can all be difficult to include. But there is no excuse for losing the essence of the story. Ultimately it is this that makes the story unique. There is however the option to make changes in keeping with the integrity of the story. I once saw a production of Macbeth in WW2 costumes and setting. It was wonderful because the changes didn’t lose the essence.
My question to myself is what to do next? I think I need to get my WISE tool out before I go any further. I am in sore need of perspective so I can regain my confidence and take the appropriate action.
Until next time
I know what you mean, sometimes comments can make us doubt ourselves and our original vision. If you can't decide what to do with a story I find it best to just put it aside and think about something else for a while. The subconscious will work it out for you.
When I'm in an obsessive mood I embark on huge re-writes but recently I've been getting myself in a mess doing that, pulling my books apart and being stuck with pieces that I can't fit back together.
Sometimes you need to wait for the subconscious to work things out before diving in.
I think it is a case of other people often injecting what they feel the story should do that undermines our confidence. It tells us that our originality isn't enough, that the writer's purpose isn't enough. Already fragile the doubts come in but I think we have to trust in ourselves or the pieces wont fit – they're not our pieces.