Sunday, February 12, 2006

What Are You Afraid of?

Finally back to blogging after a work-induced hiatus. The heading of this post comes from an excellent new book of short stories by my good friend Michael Hyde. It occurred to me last night after reading a chapter on "Putting Fear to Work" from Ralph Keyes's The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear that this would make a great writing prompt. As Keyes points out, fear is a source of tension, energy, urgency that can bring you close to the heart of your writing.

So I tried it. There are so many things I am afraid of, many of them specifically related to writing. As I embark on this memoir project, putting my toes in the water, I am filled with fear. I am afraid I won't measure up in prose, having concentrated so much on poetry. I'm afraid I won't be able to do justice to my experience in the writing. I'm afraid I won't have enough time and energy to really make it work. I'm afraid of what people will think if I write how I really feel about Stella's disability, and all the issues it brings up. And I suppose I'm afraid it won't matter to enough readers, or matter enough to readers, or whatever.

Well, I suppose the only way to deal with all of this is to "Write it!" (like disaster, says Elizabeth Bishop).

What are you afraid of?