You know what? Scratch everything I’ve ever said.
Yes all of it. In the bin.
Ugh sure, throw in some kerosene I guess. A grenade? Really? You hate me that much?
HEY NO, not that thing, you keep that Alfred. Yeah, you know what I’m talking about. No matter what they say, home invasion is the answer big guy.
But at this point I mean why even bother with narcotics when you can just be a writer and naturally wonder why trees don't fly away and stuff. What else but seductively powerful drugs or a writers mind is going to give you that kind of perspective on this wobbly-plump life? (Isn’t wobbly-plump just an absolutely gorgeous image?)
The answer is nothing.
Literally, there’s nothing else.
So that’s it kids.
Drugs or writing.
Yeah, probably the safer bet. There’s money in that at least.
Anyway, today I’d like to talk about fear. The only feeling in this life you’ll learn to really anticipate.
Whispers fearfully: “The truth is out there.”
X-files are back and I’m regressing into full nerd mode. Soon I’ll be but a simple puddle of mush and the occasional string of well overused catchphrases.
I do word stuff sometimes.
I don’t know.
I suppose the question is though, as stupid as it sounds when you say it out loud, what does fear mean to the creative? We always talk about this healthy relationship these Master-GeniusBot3000’s have with fear and art when they grace us peasants with the real stuff.
“Is that… is that real art daddy?”
‘Why yes it is son, you can tell because it says ‘real art’ right there.”
Well, I could violently spew this new age stuff, and even though some of it when rummaged through with a zombie-grade hazmat suit (that’s official folks) may yield an inkling of truth, the reality is a lot easier discerned.
You know what? I’m finding things on the internet never really get to the point half as quickly as they could.
Or is that just me?
*Waits patiently for the internet’s acrimonious wails of rage and complaint*
*Slowly begins removing clothes*
Does it work like this?
Sorry, I’m just trying this new ‘health-shake’ thing that I’m pretty sure is just a torture / social experiment wrapped in a green bottle to see just how far they can make us ‘healthy’ before we start eating one another.
Scientists: YES JUST EAT THIS HEALTHY SHIT AND FEEL EVEN SHITTIER THEREFOR BEING BETTER AND TRUST US ITS REALLY REALLY REAL. #TOTALLYLEGIT
*Slowly takes a sip*
I’m just a simple storyteller so it makes sense I guess, what do I know?
Though I hate the cliche just as much as all of you, fear does in fact play a regrettably large role in the life of a writer’s work. In anyone’s career that depends on acceptance, really. Fear of many things, sometimes the least of which is failure.
But always fear of the squirrels. ALWAYS.
*Stops sharpening sword*
For me at least, the very worst thing I could imagine is waking up one day to realize I’ve given birth to an absolute monster.
*Hideous frog-like backward pile of limbs creature looks up*
*Shaky hand, points to me*
Croaks despairingly: “…Daddy?”
Sorry you had to see that. We’re usually better at keeping him out of sight.
“NO. BAD FROGBOY. GET IN— YES, BACK IN YOUR BOX. STAY.”
Again, so sorry.
Anyway, what I mean is it can really suck to suddenly realize something you’ve dedicated so much time to all of a sudden morphed into a tale so unrecognizable and hideous that you have to ask it to where a bag when you go to reread it.
“No, I’m sorry… Just… Just wear this for me please.”
And though it’s in some ways obvious that fear has an important part to play in the story of a work’s adaptation, there are more subtle aspects one wouldn't necessarily get straight away.
Well at least I didn’t, but then again I’m not that bright.
For someone with work out there in the human cosmos (Earth, as I understand it?) work that’s already helped to establish a name, failure can mean more than just wasted time on that particular work. More than rendering obsolete all those darkened nights spent frightened before a fire, sobbing quietly as heavy tears leave salty pockmarks on the pages of our work.
…You guys don't do that?
Well, same principal applies: because failure can have retroactive effect. It can start pulling at the bottom layer of bricks to a foundation you assumed permanent, and that my lovely little wobbly friends (yay for you!), is a thing to fear. Pull out the bottom of a pyramid and things can get… messy.
For better or for worse writing is a system that exploits and flourishes on this idea of reputation. Good reputations can be cut down in a second, all the while bad reputations seem to feed off of anything. Good and bad. It’s precisely why some top selling books so terrible they generally induce collective and mass scale vomiting remain there, and why some works so radiantly beautiful they could have been sculpted from literal babies—
Nope, that one I take back.
—could have come from the hands of Da Vinci himself, remain suppressed and hidden in the most secluded and spider-webby (*shudders*) of corners. It doesn't always make a whole lot of sense I know, but I think that’s partly because it all comes down to a game of dice. A work may or may not be good, but the reputation preceding that work is what will help shape it’s fate.
Game of Thrones is awesome, but if Winds of Winter comes out and it’s about battling hedgehogs or something it would still sell well.
Uncared for works can keep the high spots because there’s a reputation of something around them (good or bad), and a lot of good books do poorly because there’s a lack of reputation entirely.
The reputation need not be good, it just needs to be there.
And to find or build that reputation is no simple task, sometimes just coming down to a coin’s flip.
Much like my life.
“And would you like a soup or salad with that Sir?”
“Yes, I’ll have the crispy whale.”
I don’t know how it works either to be completely honest.
But in writing, worries like those are often more prominent towards the end of a work. Another fear I’ve had, and one I know others have had too, is forgetting or loosing track of something that at the time feels brilliant. Like the epiphany you’ve been waiting for.
*Man of light descends from sky*
You can write something down but that doesn't mean that as you develop the idea it turns out the way you want it to, and sometimes it can be scary just how different the idea is. It can also be good fun, but it’s interesting to see how being afraid of loosing this end goal you have in mind ironically forces you away from it all the same.
Every so often (FINE, not really that often you bastards) I have a relatively solid thought or two about where a story should go and how it should get there. But more and more I’m seeing that it rarely takes form the way I imagined it. It always looks different.
“DAMMIT FROGBOY, I SAID STAY.”
Though there is fear when we’re making something, something we hope to see succeed, it need not be without merit, because there is, after all, a point to what I’m saying.
…Just gotta find it first.
No, I think that the rather simple answer is that we are motivated to preform as good as we can because of this fear. It forces us to reach just a little longer to find the right turn of phrase, right name, right scene.
You can look at writers like Pandas.
Animals so evolutionary disadvantaged they’re almost always too sad and tired to do anything at all. Bamboo has so few calories that those poor bastards have to spend 14 hours a day gnawing on the stuff. And like writers, it’s only ever fear that motivates them to do anything at all.
Which is precisely my culmination! My hypothesis! The pinnacle and climax of all this word stuff.
Fear plays a role after all.
It motivates us to go just a little further to change the ordinary to extraordinary. To make sure what we finally share is the best version of itself it can be. Or at least I think so.
Anyway, I’m 12 cups of coffee deep and can feel my heart pausing with every breath so I think this may be a good place to leave it.
But let’s look at what we learned:
Be very afraid.
Or don’t, and just eat bamboo all day.
Thanks for reading.
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