Sunday, January 24, 2010

When fear strikes

Yawn. Sorry. I'm not feeling real blog-ish tonight.

It could be that I've got one eye on the football playoffs and the other on the keyboard. Or it could be that I still feel a little punky and probably ought to be curled up in bed (watching football, of course).

Most likely, however, it's fear. That's right. Fear.

See, fear has been my constant companion my entire life. It was there in third grade when that big Holloway kid knocked me on my ass during a pick-up football game and then wanted to fight. I ran. Although I suppose, looking back, that it might have been more intelligence than fear on my part -- seeing as how the kid was in eighth grade and bigger than my old man.

It was there when my parents divorced (violently). It was there in junior high, when the class bullies realized that my stepfather was a cop and decided to make my life as miserable as they possibly could. And boy, could they. To this day, when I see a locker room I break out in a cold sweat.

It was there when I left for the Air Force. Big time. And when I got out. And when I went to college, and got married, and went to rehab. And started my career, and had a kid, then another, then yet another. It was there when I got divorced (non-violently; some lessons can be learned). It was there when I went to South America treasure hunting and lived in fear of being kidnapped by Colombian rebels like my boss had been a few years earlier.

It was there when I quit my job, when I started my novel, when I finished it, and when I started the first round of revisions.

And it's still here. Big time.

It isn't nearly as frightening an opponent as it was in the past, however. Age does bring wisdom. And I often find myself sitting and wondering what I fear most -- success or failure?

Fear feeds on my insecurities. Fear requires that inner voice that tells me I'm not good enough in order to thrive. Fear never takes a holiday. And it's patient. Damned patient. It's always there, sometimes just under the surface, other times deeper than that. But it's always there.

So each time I sit down to this latest (and probably last) round of revisions before I start shopping the manuscript for real, the fear comes. Hard. And so I surf the Internet. I read a book. I watch television. I do anything and everything, except what I'm supposed to be doing -- revising the damned manuscript.

Because, see, I'm afraid.

But at least I can recognize it these days. That wasn't always the case. And fear no longer paralyzes me like it used to. I can get through it.

I can.
FAMILY MOVIE UPDATE: Our 12-year-old son has developed a massive crush on Molly Ringwald and now sighs wistfully as he stares at her picture on the CD case. He also is angry that he didn't get to live through the 1980s! I'm so proud of him.


  1. What a simply wonderful post. You've described my fears down to the last T. I also ask myself the same question on a regular basis, 'Am I afraid of success or failure?'

    I hope to enlighten myself one day. If I fail, at least I would have tried. Nothing ventured nothing gained per se.

    To actually succeed - well, what a dream that would be :)

  2. Holy cow! Sounds like you had a lot to be afraid of! But it's made you a stronger person, and at the end of the day, that counts for a lot.

  3. The one thing that conquers fear is when you face it and keep moving on. And it sounds like you're doing a fine job of it. Keep on keepin' on, Terry, we're all cheering you on and looking forward to reading the finished product.

  4. Great day of revising today! I guess I just needed to get all that whining out of my system! Thanks for reading, guys. I'll try to be more positive in the future, although I suppose the ups and downs tell a more realistic story ...

  5. Welp, I guess that's it in a nutshell.

    You're awesome, just keep writing and get the damn thing done. You've done scarier things than this.

    Keep your eye on the prize, Terry.