feel afraid. write anyway. repeat.

I have this fear tape (DVD? Blue Ray?) that loops in my head. I've never found the off switch. Fear doesn't have an off switch, I'm learning. It's one of my permanent passengers.

Embracing fear as a companion will probably always feel hard, but it's maybe less exhausting than always fighting it. Every so often, when I remember, I ask Fear to pull over, shoo it to the passenger seat where it belongs, and plunk myself back behind the wheel where I belong.

Fear seems to show up in my creative life a lot. And by a lot I mean every damn second. I've been working on ways to be more firm with it. Less angry. More understanding. This involves the occasional love note.

Dearest Fear,

Thanks for looking out for me. Writing is scary. It's true.

  • I worry people are rolling their eyes at me.
  • I worry they're bored.
  • I worry there isn't a "they."
  • I worry that the non-theys saying I write good are either skilled liars or have “Fifty Shades of Grey” on their “Literary Genius” list.
  • I worry that online writing has changed so much since I joined the scene in 1998 that everything I publish should come in the form of thought-provoking essays when mostly I just want to remember the time the dog ate my Crocs and I wasn't sure if I should discipline him or respect his activism.
  • I worry I’ll never stop comparing myself to other writers and that the answer might be to step out of the arena. Stop trying.
  • I worry that I’ll worry about this stuff forever and get to the end of my life and realize I have more wrinkles than prose.

But, Fear. Darling. Honey. Not one of those things are threatening to my life. I cross my heart stick a needle in my eye promise no one will die even if every single bullet on that listicle up there is true.

Here are some reasons me and my small, sweet creative self are going to go ahead and write anyway:

  1. If I don't write, I'll forget. And the kids Emma may or may not have will miss out on the joy of knowing their mother had a pee-off with the family dog.
  2. I don’t need readers. An audience is delightful, but not necessary.
  3. I, Shanner-nanner, can be my own audience.
  4. No one is going to show up and beg me to write and I'll be really mad when that fully sinks in and I tally up all the time wasted on tantrums and hiding in corners.
  5. Writing makes me feel fantastic. Fuck perfection and social shares, Fear — LET'S WRITE A THING.
  6. Even when I write the stuff that's already been covered, no one pens with my particular whimsically-punctuated charm.
  7. Creating something from nothing is intoxicating.

I see you, Fear. I'm sorry if I've been unkind. Pass the keys, buckle up, have a sip of water. We've got words waiting.

Big, squishy love,


Dive Deeper

If you want to know more about the Pastry Box Project, you can read about the genesis (and goals) of the project.

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