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  • September 2nd, 2009 | 10:38 AM
Of Dogs and Writing - Fear

Cassie is a rescue dog. That means she came to me with a whole lot of baggage. Some of it I know (a stray taken to the pound, adopted, then returned) and some of it I can only imagine. We've worked to overcome what we can. The separation anxiety is mostly gone now. The nervous barking has calmed down a lot. She doesn't mind if you touch her anywhere, pick up any of her feet and tickle between the pads, lift her tail or brush her all over. I can put drops in her ears and stick my fingers in her mouth. Use a Dremel on her nails? No problem.

But she is still fearful of getting hurt. And I think it is emotional more than physical. I see it in the way she is afraid of small dogs, running to hide behind me as they approach. If I come at her with a hand over her head, she cowers. If I reach for her collar from the side, she drops her shoulders, puts her ears back and waits for the worst thing to happen. And if she goes out back and the angry teenage boy in the house behind us is yelling at his mom, she turns and runs back into the house. She'd rather cross her legs and hold it than walk out into all that angry noise. Some of these issues I still hope to overcome. Some of them, that fear that something bad is going to happen that cancels out all the good, I may never be able to completely take away.

I write from a place of constant fear.

There are the basic fears that many writers have. Fear of not being good enough. Fear of no one liking what I write, even after it's published. Fear of success and fear of failure. Fear of being judged a certain kind of person because of what I do or don't write about.

But the biggest fear is probably that someone will learn something about me, sometime maybe I didn't want them to know, maybe even something I don't know myself, all because they read my stories so closely they found the pieces of me woven between the words.

It's what I fear and yet, it's also why I write.

Those pieces of me that make it into the story, my heart, my blood, my tears, are what connect me to the reader. Even if it is just one person, just to know I touched someone with my words, well it's powerful enough to keep me coming back to the keyboard no matter how afraid I might be.

My last book, Hugging the Rock, was a heart-wrung kind of story. Because of the subject matter the reader came to the book expecting to have me stomp on their heart a few times. One of my favorite reviews came from Cynthia Leithch Smith (Cynsations) who said in part, "It's also a whole-heart book. You feel your whole heart break and re-knit as you read.' I admit that I like it when people tell me it made them cry. The writing of it all made me cry too.

Flyboy's story is different. It's not a funny story yet it's not one that you would come to expecting to have your heart broken and put back together again. But that's what I'm trying to do. And to do that I need to run headfirst into the angry noises and let them rain down on me.

It's not easy. I don't trust myself. But I do trust the story. 

And I'm trying not to cower or pull away.


There are so many stories only you can tell.Tell them, please.


( 18 comments — Leave comment )
September 2nd, 2009 10:39 pm (UTC)
The thing about revealing pieces of your soul, though?

Anything you've felt, however uncomfortable, others have felt, too.

By sharing pieces of ourselves, we give readers a chances to find--not pieces of ourselves, but pieces of themselves, I think.

And as readers, finding a piece of oneself in a story is some of the most powerful magic there is.

Edited at 2009-09-02 10:40 pm (UTC)
September 2nd, 2009 10:53 pm (UTC)
I so agree.
September 2nd, 2009 10:55 pm (UTC)
I know that feelings are universal but it doesn't make the sharing of some of them any easier.

All of my characters have pieces of me in them, some good, some bad. Sometimes holding up that mirror to see the reflection is more than I can bear, even when I have no choice.
September 2nd, 2009 11:50 pm (UTC)
Meaning, of course, the perfection that is found in imperfection. I always love reading your blog. Which is why I highlight it on my brand new website [http://bobbimillerbooks.com/index.html]. Bobbi Miller
September 3rd, 2009 11:33 pm (UTC)
Re: Perfect
Bobbi you absolutely made my day. Thank you.
September 3rd, 2009 01:36 am (UTC)
I think...If you write something that reflects some part of yourself, even if it's a fragment, then that story will have more heart and emotion and truth than the story without "you" in it.
September 7th, 2009 05:53 pm (UTC)
Yes, I agree that true writing has pieces of us in it, and it is what I try to teach others to do as well - write the truth from your heart no matter how much it hurts.
September 3rd, 2009 02:50 am (UTC)
beautiful words
September 7th, 2009 05:54 pm (UTC)
Thank you.
September 3rd, 2009 04:46 am (UTC)
I know exactly how you feel and I mean that whole heartedly. You at least have the courage to write. I have not totally found that courage yet. I have lived a very sad and lonely life and I am still living a sad and lonely life and yes there are things I do not want people to know about me either. I have also learn't though that there is nothing so bad that most people won't have either experienced first hand or would understand about either and have found great comfort in letting some people know a few of my deepest secrets.
Cassie too will be alright, she sounds like she has a pretty good life to me. Dare I say it in some ways better than mine although obviously I can't begin to know what it is like to be a dog but you get the general idea.
So hang in there and just remember there is really only one person that you have to make happy in this life and that is you and then everything else and everyone else will fall into place.
I just have so much admiration for you and you give me so much inspiration as well so please keep going if only for one person ME.

- Anne McKenna
PS I am still trying to find a copy of your book
September 7th, 2009 06:03 pm (UTC)
Thanks, Anne. Yes, Cassie has a fine, fine life. I am glad I give you inspiration.
(Deleted comment)
September 3rd, 2009 11:34 pm (UTC)
It is funny! But you know what? In Hugging the Rock there were parts that were totally me and my editor completely nailed it. She could pick them out. That was a bit scary.

September 3rd, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC)
Just remember that, like Cassie, you're now in a safe place where people love you and want you to be happy. :)
September 3rd, 2009 11:35 pm (UTC)
Yes, being in a safe place makes all the difference. ALL the difference.
September 3rd, 2009 02:42 pm (UTC)
Wow, did I need your post this morning. Not one star has lined up for me these past few weeks and I was thinking of crossing my legs and staying in bed until Nov.

September 3rd, 2009 11:36 pm (UTC)
Oh I'm glad my post popped up when you needed it most. I hope the stars get their act together for you ASAP.

And I still owe you a getting together email. Soon.
September 3rd, 2009 03:31 pm (UTC)
Thank you for your honesty, and for the courage it took to write this post and express your fear. You are an inspiration!
September 3rd, 2009 11:37 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Jama. You made my day. You really have no idea.
( 18 comments — Leave comment )

Who am I?I was born on the Cancer/Leo cusp and share a birthday with Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams. The similarities don't stop there as I can go from depressed to ecstatic without ever passing go. I feel scared most of the time though my friends call me brave and I find it easier to believe in my friends than to believe in my own abilities to make what I want out of my life.

Who am I? A wife, a mother, a daughter, and even, gulp, a grandmother.

Who am I? A writer who never gets tired of playing with words, even when the words are hard to find. A writer of books for children and articles for grown-ups and many things in-between.

Who am I? A motivational speaker, writing instructor, workshop leader and full-time follower of dreams.

Who am I? Read and find out.

Susan Taylor Brown

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