Bad Dreams, Literary Stage Fright, and CLOWNS
I had a terrible dream the other night. Except, I couldn’t remember what it was about it. I woke up, clutching the blankets, my heart pounding. It was textbook Nightmare Aftermath, without the memory itself. Eventually, I went back to sleep and forgot about it.
Until someone said something, several days later, that triggered the memory. I don’t even remember what it was, only that it was as if I’d been pushed in front of a moving train. I couldn’t do anything but blink and hope the other person didn’t notice what must’ve been a ridiculous look on my face.
In the nightmare, I admitted a terrible secret to someone who could use to harm me. It is something that is absolutely true, but not something I run around shouting about. In the dream, it wasn’t until after I said it that I realized what I’d done – and what this person could do with the information. I remember a feeling of complete terror and panic; it was a total oh shit moment.
Thankfully, it’s a dream. That’s it. It wasn’t real. I hardly think I’d be stupid enough (during waking hours) to utter something so carelessly. For all my cheerfulness, I can be a hard person to get to know. I don’t share everything with everybody, and very few people get to ever see the worst of me. (The worst of me is either when I’m very angry or face-deep in kleenx. Neither are pretty.)
But this nightmare made me think about what else I’ve been keeping to myself. The short answer, unfortunately, is everything. Many wise people advise to write about what scares you. Be honest. Be brave. Don’t shy away from the difficult bits.
I used to be very good at that. Lately, I’ve begun stories that are too real to me; they are fiction, but there are elements too close to reality to not feel…uneasy. It can be something as small as a borrowed phrase. A fondness for coffee taken a certain way. And boom…my courage falls out of the window, only to go SPLAT on the proverbial concrete. (Not cement. Cement is an ingredient in concrete. OKAY?)
There are blogs, too, that I’ve begun – only to save as drafts. I can’t discard these creations, but neither can I reconcile dragging them to light. These, I know, are my own hang-ups and fears.
I want to get over this literary form of stage fright. It isn’t me. Good or bad, I’ve always been able to shove past my insecurities and write/share whatever. That explains why I once blogged about the time I missed the chair and landed on the floor with a supersonic thud – in front of my boss. Yes, it was humiliating, but it was also FUNNY. Like all good clowns, I’ll do just about anything for a laugh. Except dress like an actual clown. Because CLOWNS ARE SCARY.
*ahem* In all seriousness, this is something I need to fix. I need to get rid of this sudden desire to self-censor. I can’t be me if half of me is hiding in the shadows. At least three times a week, I’m going to either write about something that scares me (like Poe and his fear of being buried alive) or I’m going to blog about it.
Does anyone else want to do this, too? Blog bravely, or not at all? Write a story that terrifies you? Anyone? Bueller? Bueller?