(This is a mirror site of my webpage karenjcarlisle.com)

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Fear and Writing

Yesterday’s events put my health and ‘day job’ issues into focus once again. An incident, in December, changed my life both suddenly and in many significant ways. There is no turning back; I have to live with this for the rest of my life.  Firstly, I can no longer find the courage to enter a particular place; even driving in the area stirs up memories and incites panic. Next is the negative effect on household income and finally the stress follow-on to my entire (and very supportive) family.

Over the past nine months, I have had a lot of time to think; I have been doing a lot of self assessment, soul searching and investigating my options for alternative careers, as a fail safe against all possible outcomes.

During this time of personal reflection I began to pick up my pen and start writing, something I have not seriously done in decades. Oh, I have written occasional articles based on research into 16th century Medici and their clothing … but research is safe. It was scientific. It dealt with facts; facts that could be proven. For me, this writing (though some was apparently controversial in local circles) was safe.

I did write  a ‘ novel’ once, back in high school when almost all of us are discovering our teenage angst. Some of us decide to write. I decided to write a SFcomedy to cheer myself up. It took a year. It was typed on an old ribbon typewriter. Thankfully, there is only one copy (something I really should go and dig out – to see if I have actually learnt anything).

Remembrances such as this got me thinking about writing again, this time returning to fiction; something that has always made me feel better. I had given myself a time line (1-2 years)  to try to develop a disciplined regime of writing, to hone my craft  and have the courage to share my work with others. I think I am on the way to achieving this.

As many writers have done, I started writing short stories. My first was entitled Second Chance. It was semi-autobiographical dealing with personal issues with my father – with a SF twist (they say write what you know).  It was cathartic. It also reminded me how much I actually enjoyed the process of writing, creating a story and watching it grow. Even the dreaded editing gave me a sense of fulfillment (as well as frustration and potential loss of hair).

Being for a competition, this story had also provided me with a deadline forcing me to start to learn discipline. I finished it two weeks before it was due. Then I sat there for the next week, finger hovering over the ‘send’ button on the email. I was petrified!  Once the button was eventually pressed, there was non chance of retrieval. A secret part of my soul would be visible for the judges, a carcass to pick over and possibly laugh at. Even more terrifying was , IF it placed in the competition and published, then it would be accessible to strangers and (worse) family and friends.

I then engaged  my logical brain; if I wanted any chance of becoming a professional writer (I have a time line of 5-10 years for this), then I had to produce work and send it!

I pushed the button.

This seemed to alleviate some of the my ‘day job’ stress issues as well. So I continued to write. Each time it gets just a little easier to push that ‘send’ button or  drop the envelope into the post box. I started this blog as a way of instilling a discipline, to write daily, and to temper my fear by sharing my writing in a very public forum.

As as result, I have learnt a lot about writing in the past nine months. I have noticed a change in my prose, less anguish in editing and an increased confidence in sharing. Though I must admit, dear Reader, that I still occasionally hover over that ‘send/publish’ button, wondering if I will make a fool of myself, revealing too much… or worse … have no one interested in reading my work. (the readership of this blog has recently increased 5 fold, so thank you!)

I didn’t place in that first competition but I was (and am) content with that. I discovered that my biggest fear was not that of failure or rejection but of being willing and able to share my thoughts AND to have them scrutinized.

So thank you, dear Reader, for joining my online journey and helping me rediscover one of the most satisfying and enjoyable things in my life – writing.

Fear and Writing

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