See, fear has a lot of power. It can be blinding, crippling, even fatal. People become completely paralyzed at the sight of a tiny spider. Grown adults are reduced to tears at the sound of thunder. People who taken their own lives because of voices whispering to them in the darkness. As someone who writes thrillers and horror, I am fascinated by the lengths people will go to avoid what frightens them. The human mind’s ability to be manipulated is something I love to take advantage of in my writing.
But, obviously, I am not immune.
I once considered myself, for the most part, fearless. I don’t really have a phobia. I despise needles, but as long as I don’t see them, I can avoid throwing nurses out of hospital windows. Sometimes I feel like I am suffocating if in too tight of a space. Perhaps I am mildly claustrophobic, but come on, either you have it or you don’t, right? I’ve jumped out of planes, handled venomous reptiles, hiked where most people wouldn’t go, fought competitively, and more. So, if I can do all of these things, why can’t I convince myself that I can be both a writer and a father?
It took a couple of weeks to really pull myself together. When I did, it was because I realized my mistake was hiding in this post’s opening statement. My fatal error was the word AND. I was driving myself to the brink of madness trying to be two different things and fearing I could not be good at either. Why did it have to be AND?
Fear can shut us down, but it is meant to push us forward, teach us to adapt and overcome. Why fear the spider when we can simply step on it? By breaking fear down and understanding its impact, we can learn how to face it. I had to eliminate my AND. I don’t need to be a dad and an author. I needed to combine the two goals, tackle them together. Finally, I was able to spend time with my daughter and get words onto paper. Maybe it wasn’t the five-thousand words I was used to getting out in an afternoon. But even fifty is better than zero. Maybe during another nap, I bust out a few hundred. At the end of the week, I celebrate any progress. I began involving my daughter in my writing. They say to read your work aloud, so, if she was in my arms and I couldn’t write, I read to her. (If she smiles, I assume I got the death scene right. She is my kid after all.) I looked at all my projects and prioritized them. I developed a new writing plan. Now, I feel like I am back to my old, hyper-motivated self and I have a beautiful, little muse to keep me company as I chase this crazy dream.
For those of you who are new to this writing adventure, I agree. It is terrifying and that fear will never fade completely. Just when you think you have it beat, life will change and you will begin to doubt yourself. You will wonder if it is all worth it. You will want to let that fear get the best of you and never write another word.
When things get tough, do them a different way. That fear is telling you the game is changing and it is time to adapt. If you are not constantly evolving, reinventing yourself as a writer, you are doing something wrong. We can’t control everything in life. We want to, but we can’t. What we can do is celebrate each little moment, every word written, and enjoy the journey. We can teach our children that, if you truly want something, nothing will stop you from having it. When you see that book on the store shelf with your name embossed on the cover, you will know that whoever buys it is not purchasing a bunch of words. They are taking home your fear, passion, failures, persistence, and putting a chunk of your life onto their bookshelf where you will be immortalized.
I hope you enjoy our posts at The Blood Red Pencil over the next few weeks. More importantly, I hope we can help you understand your own fears. If you are a writer, know that you are not alone. We are all on this journey together. Don’t let the terrifying moments stop you from going on one of the most amazing adventures of your life.
Jason P. Henry is lost in a world of serial killers, psychopaths, and other unsavory folks. Ask him what he is thinking, but only at your own risk. More often than not he is plotting a murder, considering the next victim, or twisting seemingly innocent things into dark and demented ideas. A Suspense, Thriller and Horror writer with a dark, twisted sense of humor, Jason strives to make people squirm, cringe, and laugh. He loves to offer a smile, but is quick to leave you wondering what lies behind it. Jason P. Henry is best summed up by the great philosopher Eminem “I'm friends with the monsters beside of my bed, get along with the voices inside of my head.” Learn more about Jason at JasonPHenry.com.