August 13, 2011

The End of My Comfort Zone

As part of my daily ritual (read: procrastination), I head on over to the YA Highway blog to see what's new.  Today's post is by Kristin Briana Otts  ( and encourages writers to "write what scares you".  I couldn't agree more with this, and it got me thinking about what types of things scare me.  There are many, let me tell you--drowning, heights, arachnids, car accidents, disease--you name it.  But more recently I've discovered another fear that I can add to this list: writing.  I don't mean writing in general, but more specifically, creative writing.  I have had plenty of experience writing essays, and feel pretty comfortable with the process of researching, quoting, and citing (not surprising when you consider that I did it for 12.5 years of my life, but that's another story).  Creative writing scares the hell out of me.  Why, you might ask?  In a word: humiliation. The creative process involves putting a part of yourself out there, opening yourself up for potential ridicule.  It's an intensely personal part of yourself, dangling out there completely vulnerable.

When I was thirteen, I took up the piano.  I followed this interest in music with violin lessons in high school. (Side note: There are few things funnier than your Strings teacher, who happens to be a nun, telling everyone to "pluck your G-strings".)  The thing about playing instruments, like many endeavors, is that the only way to get better at it is to PRACTICE PRACTICE PRACTICE.  This was a bit of a problem for me because I really didn't like anybody hearing me play.  I was so hung up on whether or not my violin-playing sounded like a cat in heat, that I really didn't allow myself to improve.  Making mistakes equals humiliation and humiliation is unbearable (I was made fun of a lot as a kid and learned this lesson pretty early on).  Creative writing is really no different for me.  The act of pouring myself into my story, and then having it get rejected, felt like something I really didn't want to risk.  If my words are rejected, isn't that the same as rejecting me?  You get the idea.

The YA Highway post has a quote that really resonates with me:
"Life begins at the end of your comfort zone." - Neale Donald Walsch

Well, I have reached the end of my comfort zone and have kept on going.  As much as it terrifies me, I have started writing fiction.  It may be scary but it also feels like the best thing that I have ever undertaken.  My writing might be absolute crud, but at least I'm putting myself out there for a change.  Now, instead of dreading what others might think of my words, I actually look forward to writing.  In fact, I crave it.  Writing has become such a part of my life now that I honestly cannot believe that I didn't start sooner.  I'm embracing this fear rather than running from it.  Who knows?  Maybe next I'll take up sky-diving or parasailing and adopt a pet tarantula. 

Not a chance in hell.  There are limits, folks.  There are limits.

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