At the risk of beating a dead horse, I had to really conquer a lot of fears with the piece that I submitted to the Literary Lab's contest for inclusion in their next anthology, Notes from Underground. My piece can be seen on my website, www.Nevets-QST.com, by clicking on the Exlusiweb link. The piece is, essentially a letter from an author explaining just why he should be in the anthology, and he expresses and implies some bizarre philosophy and dark, sinister things. I write from a very "Method" approach, and so I sort of freaked myself out several times. That scared me. I was also scared of the reception it might get because it's not exactly a story, and its pretty thick in its voice. But I did it anyway, and I feel great because of that.
I think it's a lot like actors who say they want to do a sex scene just to get over their fears about doing sex scenes. I always thought that was stupid. I kind of get the idea now. I had already thought I was pretty brave and bold in my writing. But then I had this experience where I had to push through it. And it's really helped conquer a lot of my inhibitions.
That doesn't mean that every thing I write will be that extreme, but I think it makes everything I write stronger, because I'm not second-guessing myself anymore.
I think sometimes stories like that make sense but are harder to relate to because it's such an abstract fear. So let me give you a few other examples from my life.
(1) I was the kid in high school who was terrified of dissections and opted out of them. Never had to do them in college. In grad school, my last semester I finally dissected one cat. It was pretty shaky for me.
Imagine how terrified I was when I jumped from that into gross anatomy with human cadaver dissection.
I was so scared I had the dry heaves before our first lab, and nearly passed out during the time we were waiting to open our table and meet our cadaver.
But I held on, pushed through, and while there are things about it that still make me uncomfortable, I would go jump in on a dissection table tomorrow if I had the opportunity.
(2) I am incredibly claustrophobic, and I cringe at goopy textures.
When you're doing forensic anthropology and bioarchaeology there are a whole lot of close spaced and a whole lot of goopy textures.
But when I was presented with a car recovered from the river, from which we were needing to extract remains, and I saw everyone else gingerly working in from the sides, I sucked it up, got all professional and climbed in the back of the dang car. It was a compact car filled with slick, organic river mud. Tight space, filled with goopy mess.
Neither really mattered when I identified the job that had to be done, though.
And, yes, I would do that again, too.
(3) When I was doing archaeology in Alaska, we often had to be flown out by helicopter to walk transects in the middle of nowhere. What I didn't know until my first rid in the helicopter was that I was scared to death of flying in the thing.
It was a fear I didn't even know I had until I came up against it. And then, I had no choice. There was no backing out. There was certainly no saying, "I'm not getting back on that thing," when it was time to fly back to our trucks.
Eventually, the fear wore off, but it took quite a while. And if I hadn't pushed through it I would have missed the chance to see places and do things that not many others have the chance to.
Okay, so clearly I'm not a motivational speaker or writer. It's not my gift. I hope, though, that somewhere in there you find something helps you overcome some fears and inhibitions you may not even know you have, and plunge into a new level of bravery with your writing.