Saturday, January 19, 2008

Fear: Is it really the mind-killer?

I've been blogging for long enough that I know that people are actually reading this thing (I thank both of you), and I'm starting to get a little more comfortable with all the blogosphere stuff.

Like, as I did with my previous post, passing along online memes. Or using the term "Friend of the Blog."

I have just now elected Brandon Laraby a Friend of the Blog. We've never met or spoken. But I commented on his blog once, and he replied. In online terms, that makes us BFF's, so a Friend of the Blog he is.

Brandon, like me, is an aspiring writer who's blogging the process and experience of trying to break in. But he's a bit more audacious than I am -- the goal he's set for himself is being the creator of his own original TV series. Check out A Tale of a Boy and his TV Show, and follow his adventures.

As you can imagine, one reason that Brandon's blog interests me is that we seem to be on very similar journeys, albeit at rather different stages of our lives. But recently, a particular post hit me, and it hit me like an overused metaphor.

Because what Brandon is writing about here is - I was going to apologize for the presumptuousness of putting words in the mouth of someone that I don't actually know, but then I thought, "No. I'm a writer. That's what I do!"

Anyway what I think he's writing about is something that I have also been dealing with in my own writing: Fear.

Yeah, fear.

The fear that drives us, as writers, away from certain choices, certain kinds of and approaches to material, and towards others. Brandon has I think, and to his credit, confronted his fear; he blogs about realizing that he needs to follow the impulse that's pushing him towards creating darker, more intense material.

I need to confront the fear.

The fear of my ideas. Of the work they would lead to. Of the places I'd go, the parts of myself I'd be visiting, to do justice to those ideas.

I don't necessarily consider myself a comedic writer, but I do pride myself on writing witty characters. I don't write comedies; I write dramas about people who just happen to be funny.

But what that sometimes means is that my characters and I are hiding behind irony, banter and word-play. Hiding from real emotion.

There are stories I want and need to tell that will require me to convey, and to feel, real emotions. Dark, scary emotions. The kind you can't portray with a witty quip, or a quick montage of a happy couple running through a field with balloons.

And I'm scared of those feelings. Scared of anger, pain, hatred, despair. Scared of fear.

But Frank Herbert was right: Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration.

It's okay to be scared of the darkness, scared of what I'll need to confront if I go down into the bad places inside of me. But I can't let that fear rule me. If I do, I'm limiting myself as a writer, and as a human being too. It's good to be clever, witty and entertaining. But I can go farther, if I don't let fear hold me back. It would be wrong to let fear obliterate my stories, or my art.

So that's why I thank Brandon Laraby, who I've never met, and who is a Friend of the Blog: He reminded me that I need to face my demons.


Anonymous said...

It's bold enough to write something witty (and to admit it!).
Perhaps you can use that talent to delve into your deeper ideas, the ones with fear embedded in them.
That way you don't have to feel like such a stranger to them anymore. At least it's a place to start.
Falling right into those darker areas is scary. Slipping is tricky.
Can't go wrong with tricky.
By the way, I enjoy the way you write :)

Brandon Laraby said...

And like a true blog friend I completely didn't even notice that you'd commented on my post!

Many apologies for replying - oh - a week or so late!

One of the hardest things I've had to come to terms with as a writer is that I CAN actually do it. There's nothing physically stopping me, no walls or ditches or fjords (I love that word) in my way. The only opponent to me telling a great story is myself -- even if sometimes it feels like I'm pinky-wrestling King Kong on a Coke bender.

Perhaps the best thing about writing, the thing that helps me push back the barriers and go Over-The-Top (Stallone-stylez) on Kong is a simple truth: No one else EVER has to see it.

Right now, everything I'm writing - even if it's in the effort of breaking in - is just for me. And no one ever has to see it unless I say so.

And that, my blog friend, is freedom in its truest form :D

Go out there, grab a flashlight, a pitchfork and a box of tissues and let it get a bit messy! Just don't forget where you dropped the bread crumbs along the way ;)

Good luck!!