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Posts Tagged ‘fear’

If you were ever a college student, you’ve probably had the nightmare. You know. The one where you forget about class, arrive late, walk in on a test, and realize you know none of the material. If you’re like me, you wake up from that recurring dream with sweat beading down your forehead. Maybe grades are not your tense point. Still, I’m willing to bet you have had a similar dream.

The nightmare is no longer about college. Not for me. It has moved on to writing. I guess that’s a sign I have been doing my job a long time. Or that I am heavily invested in it with my time and my emotions. Probably both.

I dreamed last night, with great amounts of panic, that I had left several empty paragraphs in a published book. There were even author’s notes to correct the emptiness, making it a glaring flaw. This might not sound so terrifying to you non-writers out there, but I wince as I read grammar mistakes in previous editions. Let alone EMPTY PARAGRAPHS!

Can you tell someone is nervous about The Lure of Lemons?

Nightmares aside, the book is actually coming along. I’m still far behind my deadlines, but solid progress is finding its way to my mind and into the novel’s pages. Maybe my dream-panic is premature. I’ll never be quite that sloppy. Yet mistakes will happen. That terrifies the perfectionist in me.

Art is not about perfection. I refuse to allow my fear of grammar mistakes, spelling errors, plot-line issues, deadline misses, and total failure (I could go on) to stop my writing. To stop my passion. To stop the good work that is done with these books. No. Nightmare, go back to the depths from which you came. I will press on.

 

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There is plenty to worry about. The tragic events of last week, of Hurricane Sandy, of what I read about in my Western Civilizations class are enough to prove that. I will not miss spending hours a day reading about death and the errors of our past. Nonetheless, the reading had a place. As Edmund Burke says, “Those who don’t know history are doomed to repeat it.” Now that the class is complete, I may even be able to agree that it was worthwhile to take. But draining. Ever so draining.

We cannot run from the tragedy of life. Sometimes worry is that gut feeling that triggers us not to walk down the dark alley or tells us to get on our knees and pray for a friend. But worry does not have to dominate our lives and that, my friends, is liberating. I do not know how people without a Savior to trust in can be at peace, but I can be. I am. And that peace creates a joy that enables me to stop and enjoy a day like yesterday.

I dressed up as an Egyptian princess for my nephew’s birthday party. It was delight to hear him open every present and even if he couldn’t tell just what it was from the box go, “Oh yay!”. To the Hulk-gloves I gave him he kept saying, “This is just what I always wanted.” Positive, wonderful, happiness over a pair of $15 green gloves. If only we all could be so content in the simple things…

So Western Civ, you had your place, but saying goodbye to you might be the best Christmas present I get this year. Remember, friends, that this is the season to be reminded that God is working out a mighty plan. Never fear!

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I was never considered to be the shy kid, but believe me, though I may have seemed outgoing I preferred to hide in my room playing with imaginary creatures. Growing up with siblings who were much older, parents who worked full-time, and few kids to hang out with, I learned to love my imaginary friends. Whole worlds came out of those stories, with each new one building new characters, relationships, adventures. You see many of those creatures and people in Issym. You will see more through my entire writing career. They were, and are, my friends.

Sunday night I was at a friend’s (an actual, not imaginary person) church speaking to the youth group. I was nervous the whole way down and while I was there. I had not had enough prep-time; I did not know what I was getting myself into; I had not run the speech by my mom… there scores of reasons for fear. But, through God’s grace, I looked it in the eye and faced it. As I looked in my peers’ faces I saw that some of them were really listening and the adults nodding along. However, some of the teens had completely tuned me and the message out. More reasons to fear came: maybe I wasn’t dressed right; maybe I was too formal or too friendly; maybe I was not down-to-earth enough. But again, I kept going. I kept my voice level, stuck to the message I knew that God had given me and I persevered! Some people got it; others did not. That does mean that I failed. And if you try something and it does not go perfectly, realize that you did not fail. One person touched; one seed planted–reasons for celebration!

I was constantly in front of my church, for music, for drama, working with kids, giving presentations. But every time, my voice trembled, my hands shook and my heart was in my throat. Everybody gets nerves. Now, with my speaking career firmly established, I can officially say I am still afraid of public speaking.

Fear is a sad part of life. The thing is, that though I am afraid of speaking, I love it. It captures my whole attention, which is a difficult thing to do because my brain focuses on ten different things at once. It gets my passions out where they can do some good. Speaking is wonderful, despite the fear.

Fear can be useful. It tells you not to go down the dark ally or to drink that dirty water. But most of the time fear stands in our way. Do not let it stand in yours.

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Today I am keenly aware that fear is an inky darkness that starts to affect us in ways we do not even see.  Like in an invisible enemy with the strength of a tiger, fear begins to pounce on us in our actions, our attitudes, our thoughts and our relationships. Fear is not simply contained in books; we face it every day. I am a person who is more afraid than most. Each day to say goodbye to a loved one is a battle to believe that God is watching out for them. Each day to open my email and wonder what will have gone wrong while I slept… you get the idea. Fear, is something I struggle with writing about, because when I start thinking about fear, it can consume me. Have you ever felt this way? Or like you cannot see fear to fight it?

Fear is a powerful tool. It compels us to do things or not to do things. But fear can have mastery over us. Talented writers know that fear is part of their characters lives. Every night as a hero in a fantasy book sleeps in an unfamiliar and unfriendly wood, they deal with massive amounts of fear, which on occasion can become panic. Just think about the last book you read. Would you readily sign up for what we authors put our characters through? (The trick about writing is not to show too much fear, but just enough. If all readers hear about is fear, then it will be a fairly depressing book.) The good news is that fear does not have to defeat us. Almost every book is about our hero conquering the fear that was so close to crippling him. In my book Issym, the heroes have to choose whether to run home or stay and fight in a world where they cannot even safely reveal their names. They have to fight fear and choose which way to go.

As a Christian, I believe that God gives us the strength to fight our fears. When God sent Gideon to defeat the Midianites, the man was terrified. Did God condemn Him for that? No. He gave Gideon what he needed to keep going. Look at Judges 7:10-11a, “If you are afraid to attack, go down to the camp with your servant Purah and listen to what they are saying. Afterward, you will be encouraged to attack the camp.” In many ways God proved Himself to Gideon. When Moses was afraid, God sent Moses’ brother to help him on his journey (Exodus 3 and 4). God understands our fears. After all when Jesus came, He begged with God, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will.” (Mathew 26:39) Jesus knew what was going to happen. I imagine He was terrified, but He kept going. Authors can only parallel this amazing story. Just as in the last scenes of our books our heroes conquer their fears, accept death if necessary and fight to their last, so Christ accepted death for us and saved us from sin if only we accept His gift.

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