Obstacle #18: Fear

TGIF, am I right? Although hey, it’s Friday the 13th! As expected, it’s been quite a lucky day!

It’s barely been a week since the semester started again (not like I’m counting the weeks of classes remaining, let’s not mention the exams or grading) and like my students, I wish we’d had a longer break. I told them on Monday “you’re complaining now your break was a mere week, but in May you’ll be complaining your summer break is too long!”

They laughed, but they know I’m right. Who has nearly 5 months of vacation!? France, that’s who.

Anyhoo! (Clever, I know.) This will be my first Obstacle Series post in more than a year!? Woah…

But basically, I think I finally put my finger on that feeling that’s been nagging and nagging at me for months. You know the one:

“I wanna write!” *opens document*
*stares at page for hours, rereads everything*
“… Nope. Nothing to say, too much to work on, ‘kbye!”

That first part is a lie. I have a ton of things to say! Just the week before I’d added a paragraph full of ideas and things to tweak, added details to previous genius ideas and and and–!

So what’s stopping me? Scratch that, why am I so actively stopping myself??

Fear, pretty much. In all its variety.

I’m afraid of writing more and seeing my ideas collapse, or finding out that my world building isn’t profound enough. I definitely don’t want to hear that my characters aren’t developed enough, that my plot is cliché or that my writing is overall barely above acceptable.

So instead of adding length to what I managed to write, I agonize over what I do have. “The timeline’s wrong, this detail doesn’t match my revised idea, is this really appropriate where it is, there’s so much to fiiiix!” And basically discourage myself from writing because my perfectionist side can’t deal with imperfections.

But who writes a perfect draft on their first try?

Yet I suppose my fear doesn’t stop just at the current dilemma that is finishing my draft (although it’s the most intense for now). I have a habit of projecting into the future (or not living in the present moment, if you will), and I’m fairly certain a part of me is already stressing about polishing the manuscript to send with query letters. Way, way ahead of the tide.

So what am I supposed to do to battle this never ending fear, which so rudely captured me in the eternal abyss? Cower forever by glimpsing and exiting my word processor, or tie myself solidly and climb my way out of this fear-filled abyss?

I view this post as my first step out. I vanquished the blank post, despite the urge to go back and erase everything or just save this draft and leave it to mold in the unpublished folder. Maybe I can’t climb perfectly or quickly, will end up scraping myself and falling a bit, but it doesn’t mean I can’t gradually climb my way out, inch by inch, hold by hold, away from the fear.

Shout out to all daring adventurers, however far out of the abyss you’ve come, or if you’re still struggling with your holds, or if you slipped, skinned your knees and have to start from the bottom again. Let’s take our next step together, reassured that we’re not alone despite facing similar yet unique chasms and that the surrounding fear will be vanquished by the shining light of perseverance and tenacity (or perhaps, a sea of sweat from our efforts will eventually fill the abyss and take us to the top…).

So for all you conquerors and challengers of abysses, how do or did you deal with your fear(s)?

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2 Year Anniversary

I can hardly believe my blog is turning 2! (Don’t worry, I’m not a doting parent…)

A lot has happened since I started this back in Japan and a lot more is about to change. I’m happy to report I got admitted to grad school, and will be starting my new adventure in Australia in a few short months!!

In the mean time, same old same old: things to do, people to see, places to go… procrastination…

I haven’t written as much as I’d hoped in this past year, but the brief reflection seems to have inspired me, so be on the lookout for a new post shortly!

A profound and resonating thank you to all my dear followers and readers, you seriously have no idea how giddy I can get when I see my stats page. (What? Someone in [insert country] read my blog!?! Eeee!)

This seemed appropriate as I’m still a teacher.

 

I hope to grow some more as a writer (thus also hopefully a better blogger) and will encourage you to check your seat belt at this time, just in case of extreme and unpredictable weather storming in and taking us all by surprise. That’s what I’m hoping for anyway, wild writing phases.

Happy Wednesday, and write you later!
Ali J.

P.S: Today also marks a more somber anniversary, that of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami in Japan. I can’t believe it’s already been four years. If you’re so inclined, please take a minute to send them warm, encouraging and loving thoughts. (Yahoo! Japan is donating 10 yen (~$0.10) for each user who searches for 3.11 on March 11th Japan time.)

11.03.11