Ever since a young age, I’ve had a strange idea of what is scary. Kids were always quick to call spiders, heights or clowns as things they are afraid of. Personally, the only thing that’s anything like this for me was when I was around 7 years old and I was absolutely terrified of the Cheshire Cat from Disney’s Alice and Wonderland. It haunted my nightmares, and that impossibly large, manic grin appeared whenever the lights went out. I don’t know why it did, but it did.
The fear that replaced this several years later, and I suppose still resides in me, is a fear of failure: of being lost and alone, and sentenced to mediocrity. I think that’s a strange thing for a 13-14 year old to recognise as a fear, but perhaps I am not alone. Maybe I was just more mature at that age than I give myself credit for. As I got older, I came to realise that whilst growing old without accomplishment seems like a waste of my life, I am still only starting the third decade of my time and the future is always in my control (cue intervening drunk driver/heart attack/natural disaster). I do get a say on how my story goes; less on how it ends; and none on how/if it will be told.
Yeah, yeah, I’ll get to the point. It’s called scene setting!
So when I set out to write this blog, it was intended to be the start of writing for an audience and a transition from writing in a journal for my own counsel and record. I’ve recently had the burning desire to having a writing career reignited, and I think this may have also got me thinking about fear. I started writing a Daily Scrawl, but over the last few days, although I’ve had subject matter and an itch to type away at this keyboard, I’ve been paralyzed by doubt.
I decided that the best away to overcome this (procrastinate further) was to look to influences and remind myself why I have this itch to scratch. I must have spent at least 3-4 hours listening to Stephen King talks and interviews, which for any Dark Tower fans among you might explain the choice of title for today (although it was borrowed from T.S. Elliot originally), and I suppose it has done the trick. Whilst I have held back from writing any entries here, I have finally mustered the courage to actually start writing a story that has been rattling around in my brain in broken pieces for at least a year. So cheers, Stevie, I’ve ordered your On Writing for further inspiration.
On the topic of fear, and I suppose this applies to a lot of things, that more often than not knowledge and understanding are the tools required to overcome what scares you. If you understand why you are afraid, or can do a good enough job at convincing yourself why this particular thing isn’t as scary as you are, then it’s a lot easier to square up to it. You don’t get cold sweats looking down the barrel of a gun you know has nothing but empty chambers, right?
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