Hey, everybody! Back again with the usual content. Hope your Thanksgivings or holiday celebrations were fun and wonderful. If you didn’t celebrate…
Well… you get the deal.
Anyway, I want to get real with you guys for a second. Can I do that?
Fall is finally here, and I’ve been putting on my sweaters and making tea like crazy in an attempt to stay warm. My fingers and other extremities are getting colder easily, which makes writing in the mornings a bit more cumbersome. But what I’m also learning is that staying warm or hot in other areas isn’t as good for me as I thought.
In an earlier post, I talked about how it was necessary for writers to tap into the fiery part of themselves when writing a rough draft, and that if their inner editor had any questions, they should write them down and keep moving.
Well, I did that for a while, and then…
What I can only describe as a “brain crash” happened.
On November 18, which was two Fridays ago, I was working on a scene in my novel, and I came to a point where one of my characters was charging up their magical power.
And I didn’t realize what color it was.
And as much as the fiery writer part of me wanted to plow through and ask questions later, the watery-editorial part in me had enough.
I went to Google in the middle of writing and starting researching colors traditionally associated with magic. I started trying to come up with a color-based magical system, and then noticed all the writing time I’d put away for myself was about to be eaten away. I’d broken my own rule, and let the other more cerebral part of me win that day.
And I quit writing early.
Since then I’ve been working on more cerebral parts of my novel like the backstory, world-building, and other systems that need attention. I’m not necessarily giving in to the editorial part of me that’s fixing up the rough draft, but I’m not going to deny that with how much time I spend writing the story itself, I need to make sure the systems that are in place are as good as they can be.
Right now, the fiery and watery parts of me are fighting over the captain’s wheel. And I’m looking for ways to give them equal amounts of time. And if you find yourself in a similar struggle between writing and plotting, I don’t blame you. You can do both. You do not have to do one or the other. If this is a story you’ve been working on for a long time, you have the right to plot it out like crazy. If you’re just getting started with the story, pansting it is cool, too.
Be flexible. Each story is different. That’s what I’m learning.
I’m also learning that I still have a long way to go in facing my fears.
Veritas is the Roman Goddess of truth. It’s said she hides in a holy well because she’s so elusive.
And I like how the Romans depicted her figuratively — said through her personality that the truth is hard to find. It hides in a well, afraid of what’s above. It dons a cloak of fear, afraid of what people will think of it. It hides because it knows how powerful it is and knows that people will reject it just as quickly they will demand for it.
The truth is afraid of itself.
And to tell you the truth, pun intended, I’m afraid of my true self.
And it’s times like this that I have to remember this quote by Marianne Williamson from her book A Return to Love:
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’ve never read the book. I only remember it because it was featured in the movie “Akeelah and the Bee.”
But I still remember it. And I have to remember it, because it reminds me of two things: 1) it’s okay to be scared, 2) my fear is what liberates me, not binds me.
Being Afraid is Okay
I’m not sure if it’s in every society, but particularly in American society, it seems like we’re taught to stuff down our fears and get rid of them completely in an attempt to look brave. We’re taught that being afraid is something negative. If we fear something, we’re called “chicken” or ridiculed, as Tim J. Lawrence (warning: strong language in the rest of his post) puts it:
We’re happy to acknowledge people’s fears when they seem to “beat” them, but when people are paralyzed by fear we’re much quicker to ridicule and marginalize them; treating them as if there’s something wrong with their fears. This creates an ethos of humiliation, which is passed down from generation to generation in a cycle of shameful insanity.
This ethos is horrific, because it essentially says if you can’t beat your fears, you’re a loser, a coward, or a weakling. You’re not entitled to people’s respect, so piss off. This isn’t just cruel, it’s ridiculous. Why? Because our abandonment of the fearful only exacerbates the fear. And since we’re all afraid, it’s no wonder we’re all beginning every year “resolving” to move beyond our terrors only to come to the end of the year and find that we’re just as scared as we were 12 months prior.
We love hearing stories about people conquering their fears. But it seems like we don’t hear enough about the middle part — the struggle, the actual part where people are afraid to the point of paralysis. Fear — that paralysis — is something we all feel, some a little more strongly than others. But we all feel it.
For a very long time, I thought it wasn’t okay to be afraid of everything. I mean, yes. Being afraid of everything, if “everything” includes breathing, eating, going to the bathroom, and doing regular activities, can be debilitating, and one should seek help.
But I thought being afraid of anything for days, weeks, or years, on end made me “irrational” or that something was wrong with my fears, and therefore something wrong with me.
But I was dead wrong.
It’s okay for me to be afraid of moving forward or moving backward.
It’s okay for me to be afraid of success as well as failure.
It’s okay for me to just be afraid.
Because somewhere out there, somebody is probably afraid of the exact same things.
Because fear is hardwired into the human brain. I can’t get rid of something that makes me human. I need it to survive.
But in accepting my fear — acknowledging its existence and sharing it with you, dear readers — this is the first step I have to take in this journey called life.
And I invite you to take it with me.
Write down in the comments (or on a piece of paper in private) your Veritas — your inner truth. Write down what you’re afraid of. It can be one thing or many things. Just write it down. You don’t have to act upon that fear (or fears) yet. But whatever has been holding you back lately or keeping you from being your true self, make it known. Force that truth to come out of hiding and bring itself into the light so that you can understand it and so that we can understand that our fears are normal.
I’m scared of becoming the bomb-tastic adult I know I’m meant to be. I’m scared of messing up my taxes when I first do them. I’m scared of learning how to get affiliate income for this blog, because it means I’m in the game. I’m in it for the long haul, and I’ve got to assume new responsibilities. And I’m scared that I’ll get no money at all from affiliate income. I’m scared of finding myself in a ditch as well finding myself on an uphill climb to Golden Days. Zero is comfortable to me. Zero feels safe, and I’m afraid to become a plus or a minus on my graph, because it means change. And change is new. And change is scary to me.
And that’s okay.
Again, write down your Veritas.
We’ll return to it December 12, in the next Monday Musing.