(Or, failing that, boil his head in a bucket of angry jellyfish.)
A very good friend asked me the other day if I had written anything lately. I smiled sort of dismally and shook my head. “No…not since…England…”
Ladies and Gentlemen, I returned from England at the beginning of August last year. So what, you ought to ask, am I doing? I don’t know. I have an armful of excuses for these moments, ready to be flung into the imaginary teeth of the gnome in my head (he must be a gnome) who asks me the very same question, only snarling and red-faced and not so politely. Let’s hear these excuses, shall we?
I’m busy. I’m tired. I don’t write anything worth reading. I’m fickle with storylines and plots. And—my personal favorite: Well, I do write—just not on paper. This is a sneaky one because I am, in fact, constantly writing, if by “writing” you mean holding conversation with characters in your head (or even out loud) and jotting down a snatch of a sentence when the muse pesters.
But if I’m to be honest, I really haven’t been writing at all.
The gnome poses another question: Why? You might direct your attention to that list of excuses—or hear the real reason. I am afraid. I look back on things I have written and sigh while the gnome turns up his nose disdainfully.
Fear is funny. I know a lot about it, as I’m afraid of quite a few things (e.g., snakes, sharks, tornadoes, the dark, chickens, toasters…) I am, in fact, so much afraid of snakes that on our Senior Trip to Indonesia, when we took a boat to another island for an “Adventure Hike” and were told to be wary of those nefarious deceivers of women, I actively looked for ways to sprain my ankle in order not to go. When my efforts proved in vain, I prayed fervently, Lord, may I not see a snake! You know how much I hate them.
I started off the trip in terror. It had rained recently, so the water was high, the boats low, and my nerves about to snap. Now and again people saw snakes in trees, but I never did. As soon as we landed and commenced our trek, I resigned myself to fate, imagining a snake attacking me at every turn. I would make a long speech as I writhed in pain, full of semi-colons and dashes and quotes—and exit this world grandly.
Then something strange happened. As we sloshed through the mud, getting our socks and shoes hopelessly soaked, the refrain in my head gradually changed from the morbid Here’s a snake—splash—and here’s a snake—splash—to Hmm, this is actually sort of fun. I forgot to be afraid and began to enjoy what I would have otherwise—a tramp through the woods, so much so that by the time we turned back to walk for the boats, I was leading our group. And when the low growl of a wild boar vibrated through a thicket beside us, I stared coldly in his direction with my best impression of Judi Dench. “Do not disturb us, please. Some of us would rather not go a few rounds with you today. Another time, perhaps.”
Fear had clouded my vision and prevented me from doing something I really loved. As I said—funny, because that’s why I haven’t been writing. But it doesn’t matter, does it? I love writing, so I write. It’s pretty simple. After all, who cares if nobody likes my writing? Who cares if I won’t get published anytime soon?
Okay, I definitely still do. But caring won’t prevent me from doing what I love—in spite of fear. That little gnome hasn’t smiled once in his life, I’m sure. But I smile when I write. And this summer, I plan to.
So that gnome—let’s call him Archibald, I don’t like that name—can sit there and sneer! He may be intimidating… but he shouldn’t stop me.
Especially since I can get a blog post out of him!