I’m sat here trying to write about fear and writing. As I type, various fears are playing through my head. How much of myself do I want to put on the internet? How much do I want to push the ideas in this post? The internet is made out of human beings, and human beings are awful.
Those are my conscious fears. But in creative writing, I’m dredging my unconscious too, and the depths and heights of my own emotional experience, in order to tell a story. It’s difficult to do that and play it safe, even if I wanted to. Things leak out. Not all of them are palatable. Some of them might betray things about me. Do I want to share those things? Do I have a choice? I don’t want to play it safe.
The longer I write, the more tricky subjects I tackle, the more difficult scenes I write. Each time I push the boundaries of my comfort zone, it gets easier to do that, and next time, it’s not such a battle.
But sometimes I write stories, and they have a hole. Not an intentional hole. Sometimes I kid myself that I put it there deliberately. But mostly it’s made of the things I’m not yet comfortable writing about. I might not even realise the hole is made of my fears. Sometimes it’s also made of desires I haven’t admitted to, or don’t want to share. They’re in the hole out of fear as well. They leak out of the hole by accident. Sometimes I realise after the fact.
What if I could pin them down, and stick them on the page? It’s a process: becoming more comfortable with turning myself inside out and setting a bloody handprint down. Most days, I feel like a steaming hot mess of pain and fear and heartache and desire. What will it look like? Will people turn away in disgust or connect? It’s an unlearning process. Unlearning fear. And a learning process. Learning to balance out conscious intent with the unconscious experience of being a person in the world, and somehow distil that on a page, so that other people can see it too, and say, “yes”.