Home > advice -- not that you asked, only slightly ranty, Random Musings, things that are a necessary evil > do not be a slave to IF — nothing is gained through fear.

do not be a slave to IF — nothing is gained through fear.


Today, I remembered something important. The truth, something I had captured some months ago, had escaped me. I did not even realize it was gone until, like a bird, I found it perched right in front of me. It was startling to discover that I had forgotten what I had so recently obtained. Because wisdom always seems to speak out of grief, hurling itself from the strange circles of thought we often find ourselves in following a loss. Something good should come out of such pain. Something useful. Something positive. Something that changes our lives, even as we wake up to find them changed.

Shortly after my mother died, I promised myself two things. One is that I would appreciate what I have when I have it. The other was never to give up when something/someone is worth fighting for. The first one I have stumbled with, occasionally missing a dance step or two – but that’s a vow that will always be a work-in-progress. The second is a bit more difficult, because it is an idea that must constantly be renewed.

I never fight without a reason. From experience, I realize that sometimes you simply take a stand so that someone doesn’t bowl you over without opposition. Sometimes, you speak in order to say the things that must be said – knowing full well that you cannot change someone’s mind. That isn’t always the aim. The same thing can be said for art of any kind: the only way you truly fail is when you do not try. That is giving up, sticking to the safer, easier shadows. But who is ever truly happy with safe or easy?

Sometimes, I back off of things, because of circumstances. Sometimes, I just stop. I am wondering if perhaps that is the easy choice, a coward’s way, a decision born not of wisdom but of fear. I wonder if that is letting someone else dictate a choice that is mine to make. I wonder if it is a reflex structured to avoid possible pain. If I do this, I might… or If I am vulnerable, I could… or If I do this, it will be hard…

If. If. If. How often do we allow ourselves, and our lives, to be dictated by if? If is word made of fear, not strength. If closes the door, walls up it up, and locks us away from the rest of the world. From even ourselves and the possibilities we desire/need.

Life is hard. Love is hard. Art is hard. You make a choice, and it’s scary. You fall in love, and it’s terrifying. You make art, and other people will see it (and possibility dislike it). We are all afraid. We are all scared. We are all one choice away from change.

Sometimes, we don’t do or say things, because we are afraid of being or sounding stupid. Of another person reacting badly or not at all. I am guilty of this, sometimes. Even recently. I held something back, because I was afraid of how the other person would react. Not because what I had to say was unimportant or untrue. Not because I didn’t feel it. But because I was scared.

That, my darlings, is no way to live. Fear shouldn’t pull our puppet strings. Fear shouldn’t keep us from ourselves. Fear shouldn’t strangle our wants and needs. In order to get what we want, we have to be brave. And I say that as a writer – because a writer has to be brave. We have to write a story, or a novel, or a poem – and shove into the world, hitting SEND and feeling sick to our souls. Because oh my god, someone is going to judge this thing we made. Someone is going to see it and maybe find it lacking. Someone is going to read this thing that we created – this bit of words that we tore out of our hearts.

If that isn’t scary, if that doesn’t feel sick or panicked, then I don’t know how what will. If I can send a story out for submission, I can speak the truth. I can fight for things that I want. I can certainly handle these mothereffin’ re-writes that are eating pieces of my soul like candy. (Mmm, ventricular muscle, they seem to say. In my head, all my writing fears are like Gollum. But that is a post for another day, my preciousssss. *ahem*)

There is nothing worse than silence. There is nothing worse than failing to try. In life, there are moments where we let fear seep into bones, and it overwhelms our other feelings. I have been that person. I have been mad with my own misunderstanding. I have been a girl who swallowed her own heart, because her heart is a bastard. But today, I remembered the framework of who I am. Today, I remembered the promises I made to myself.

I am not a perfect person. I don’t believe in perfection. I don’t believe in walking away. I don’t believe in giving up. I do not believe that things are impossible. Like Alice, I believe in at least seven impossible things before breakfast.

Maybe this makes me an idiot. I don’t care if it does. I think that life is so much more than black or white, good or bad, sin or virtue – and that our choices should never be forged by fear. We too often hide from what we want, finding reasons to keep ourselves away. But that is not living. It is lying. All greatness arises out of moments of foolishness, of stripped pride and raging doubts.

I believe that everything I want is within my reach. I wonder how many are brave enough to believe that, too.

“To be yourself in a world that is constantly trying to make you something else is the greatest accomplishment.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“What lies behind us and what lies before us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Always do what you are afraid to do.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them.” ― Ralph Waldo Emerson


  1. November 4, 2012 at 9:28 pm

    I’m at the stage in NaNoWriMo where OMG THIS STORY SUCKS WTH WAS I THINKING I DIDN’T PLAN THIS AT ALL–but I’m also nearly caught up with the word count and there have been bits that came out every single day that I really like. I went to my town’s write-in today and got waved at my some friends when I came up for breaks: “How’s it going?” they’d say. “It sucks,” I’d say, but then I finished that chunk of exposition that apparently had to be excised from my brain. I named the main character’s father. I made some nervous writers laugh. I figured out where the next couple of scenes are going. And I decided (again) that spending any time at this point (at any point?) analysing whether the thing is any GOOD just doesn’t help at all. The “good” answer to “How’s it going?” is “Yes, it is going.” I will keep going, and that’s how I’ll figure all this stuff out (not to mention actually get a story on the page).

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