riding bitch

The life of a writer and survivor of loss.


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Fear Is The Mind-Killer

Do you ever wonder what would happen if your dreams came true? I don’t mean your dreams of winning the lottery. I mean the dreams that you’re pursuing at this very moment, or the dreams that you would be pursuing if you had the time. For me, the dream is to write and make movies for a living. I don’t necessarily desire to be filthy rich, but I wouldn’t mind owning a house with a few acres of land so my dog can run around. Mostly though, I want to be working at what I love to do, creating work that affects people in a meaningful way.

To achieve my dream I am currently writing a memoir, a screenplay and two television pilots, all in my spare time. I’m taking a gamble on myself, investing hours upon hours of time and energy on projects which might, or might not, see the light of day. Sometimes I think what’s the point, why keep going, what are the chances of making it now at 42, almost 43 years old? Then I think, what if I do make it? What if I become a successful writer/filmmaker, one who has to navigate the business, talk to the press, give interviews, promote my work, promote myself, manage people and so on?

My therapist once pointed out that I have this habit of not finishing projects, or rather not following through on them enough. I get them to a good place, but I don’t do what’s necessary to take them to GREAT place, or to get them produced. It’s like I run out of steam at some point. Another way of looking at it is I actually have a fear of success. I want to be successful, but I also don’t want to be successful because I don’t want to be judged, held accountable or  scrutinized. I don’t look forward to the added attention that comes with success.

Some people crave attention and are masters of composure in the spotlight. Not me. I can be very social and fun, but also very shy and guarded. People have often said that when they first met me, I came across as aloof and standoffish. I used to be shocked to hear this, but now I sort of understand. I am not the type to be your best friend, or spill my guts, upon meeting you.  I’m more of a sit back and observe type of person until I feel comfortable enough to share my goofy self. Sometimes I am painfully inarticulate. I find it difficult to think clearly when under pressure (except when I’m on set or in a crisis). I am 100% more articulate and open on this blog than I am in real life. Okay, maybe not 100% but at least 75%.

Maybe I’ll never have to face my fears because I won’t be successful. If the opposite is true, maybe it won’t be so bad. One can be trained for public speaking and coached for interviews and so on. As Kaz would say, “That would be one of them good problems.”

This is one of my favorite quotes about fear from the book DUNE by Frank Herbert:

“I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. Fear is the little-death that brings total obliteration. I will face my fear. I will permit it to pass over me and through me. And when it has gone past I will turn the inner eye to see its path. Where the fear has gone there will be nothing. Only I will remain.”
 
Can you relate to the fear of success? Or is the fear of failure scarier?
 
 


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20 Fears to Overcome (by this writer)

1. I will get to Vermont residency in two weeks and not be able to write.

2. I will get to Vermont and not know what to write.

3. I will spend all this time and money for a trip that will yield nothing.

4. I will be laughed at by the other artists for being a fraud because I haven’t been published yet.

5. I won’t be able to handle the cold. Watching TITANIC last night didn’t help.

6. I will sleep too much.

7. I will meet too many interesting people and be distracted.

8. I won’t make any friends.

9. I won’t be able to remember everyone’s names. This will be embarrassing and stressful every time I leave my room.

10. I won’t leave my room.

11. The bed will be uncomfortable (though this might cancel out #6).

12. I will worry about the puppy staying three miles down the road with a surrogate mom, and not be able to write.

13. I will not have enough warm clothing or footwear, causing me to have to go shopping instead of writing.

14. Whatever I do manage to write will be garbage that I could have just as easily written at home.

15. My computer will stop working (I’m considering taking two).

16. I will get lost in the woods and no one will notice because they’re artists on residency.

17. I will get lost in the woods and be found by people who live in the woods.

18. I will get lost in the woods and not be found by anyone and freeze to death.

19. I will not be able to handle driving in the snow and ice.

20. I won’t like the food.