I will have the promised post on getting and pushing past being stuck soon. But today, I want to talk about something else.
Leaning into the fear.
This year, I have unearthed more about myself than I knew was there to discover. As I have expressed before, writing this hard and fast doesn't leave any room for me to hide from myself. The more I write, even when my stories are superficial, who I am shows up in the characters, the plots, the obstacles. It's like navigating a mine field made of all the lies I've told myself about who I am.
Except in this mine field, the one made of myself and my hidden pieces, the more things I blow up, the better.
To write well, to write myself real, to get past the things that stop me from writing, to become the person I want to be, I have to step on as many mines as I can. I have to lean into the fear, to walk where I dare not, and to find the places I do not want to go.
I keep thinking: I didn't read this in my books about writing. Am I insane? Am I the only one? Natalie Goldberg touches on the idea a little in her ideas of writing practice. She warned me a little. But it is easy to disregard her meditative writing practice in the face of so many others, who only discuss how to plot and create story and get published and above all avoid passive voice.
It's easy to feel betrayed, because they never warn you about this when you say you want to write fiction. They never tell you that you may meet yourself, and that it probably will be less than pretty. They don't tell you how to stick with it and move through the terror of discovery.
Yet, every month, I face the same thing. I find the place my story is headed and I feel that sick, cold terror. My writing slows down, I feel lost, abandoned, deserted. I don't want to blog, in fact, I don't want to exist. I'm too messed up to write, let alone to live — or so the frightened parts of me believe. I cry a lot, I spend too much of irowboat's time making him listen to my artistic angst before he tells me to shut up and write.
And every month, I find a way to push through. I give in and lean toward the places I most fear and find that it wasn't as frightening inside the terrible secrets as it was standing on the precipice. The words come, I forget to care if they suck or not, I just want to be done.
Each month, it is the same. Each month I know for certain that I cannot go on, that I am too frightened, too insecure. As soon as I realize that my job is to blow myself up over and over on the parts of me I have burried, I can move on.
It can even be fun, once the screaming stops.
And yet, I still feel unprepared for just how difficult it is. I have to re-learn every time that fear is my friend. The places I am frightened of writing into are the very places that can set me free. If I will only go there.
This month, it has been very, very hard to go there.
So I am writing this as a reminder to myself: lean into the fear. Lean in and find that one thing I don't want to know, the one thing I just can't handle. Write it; write it tired and fast and frightened. Cry, freak out, have a drink, laugh, do whatever it takes to hold on and keep with it. Whatever it takes to keep writing.
Because nothing, no amount of fear or truth or discomfort or sleepless nights, nothing is worse than not writing.