Tuesday, January 01, 2008

Fear Itself

Novelist Walter Mosley was one of the speakers on a panel at the National Book Critic Circle's annual members' meeting in New York last March. He had a new book hot off the press, so new that he opened the first carton at the meeting and gave out copies to anyone who wanted one. The title: This Year You Write Your Novel.

Great! I thought. I have a novel I want to write. Actually, I had three, one of which I've been mulling for some 20 (!) years. Now there's a fourth, of which I wrote two chapters in November and then stopped.

I started reading Mosley's book as soon as I got back home. It's terrific. He spells out exactly what one has to do, and how to go about doing it. This looks easy, I thought. I could do this.

But I didn't. I put Mosley's book down, unfinished.

Why?

Because I was afraid.

I can only admit that to myself now that I've read this:
The Nasty Four-Letter Word That Keeps You From Writing, which Darling Husband just sent me a link to.

Someone asked me what my New Year's resolutions are. I responded:
    1. Stay healthy.
    2. Stay sane.
Now I'm adding:
    3. Overcome my fear.
    4. Write that novel.
These are in addition to my perennial resolutions, courtesy of British critic James Agate (1877-1947):
  1. To refrain from saying witty, unkind things, unless they are really witty and irreparably damaging.

  2. To tolerate fools more gladly, provided this does not encourage them to take up more of my time.

3 comments:

Brian Clark said...

I love your perennial resolutions... mind if I steal them? :)

Bella Stander said...

Yes, but you may borrow them, as I do, by citing their source.

Christine Fletcher said...

Have you read The Courage to Write, by Ralph Keyes? The book addresses the fears that surround writing. It's been a while since I've read it, but I remember thinking it was excellent.

For me, starting a new project is one big wrestle-o-rama with fear. Which I'm going through right now, in fact. Must be time to read Keyes's book again... :)