Writing the Fear…

I’ve often read that if a writer is searching for a topic or subject to inspire her, she should reach toward her deepest fears, give voice to the unspeakable. I’ve thought about that a lot. And I wonder if it’s wise.

Most of my deepest fears revolve around my children. I am not a superstitious person, but even I feel that writing down the deepest fear I feel might in some way jinx me, make it come true. And even if that is impossible, this idea so frightens me, pushes me so close to deep, high-pitched irrationality that I won’t risk it. But you probably know what I’m getting at, especially if you are a parent. I’ve got some others, too… things that are just little flitting thoughts or passing feelings that I grasp on to that make me think, “what if I really felt that way all the time? What if I acted on it?”

I have no doubt that building a fiction around the ideas that most frighten me would probably draw out some passion, maybe charge the words with a bit more than my usual wattage. But would it be worth giving voice to the fear?

I also worry about the long term repercussions… “Mom, why did you write that? Was it about me?” There is always an element of truth in every fiction, isn’t there? Some spark of reality that sends the story unraveling in its own fanciful direction. Would it be right to do that to my children? To use them as fodder for fiction? Especially fiction that I fear would be dark and gritty?

What do you think? Have you written from fear? Can you name any well known works that might have come from such a place?


4 thoughts on “Writing the Fear…

  1. Hmmm, a very thought provoking post. I likey 🙂
    I do agree with a lot of what you wrote – I am a parent also and the fear that we have towards our children is a given. BUT. If we don’t push boundaries when it comes to writing then when can we push them? To me, it sounds like you WANT to write about those deep dark fears and I think that by the time your kids are old enough to understand your writing they will not feel insecure about it at all.

    I believe that it’s ok to live vicariously through your alter ego’s and characters. Like an actor playing a part.

    I think you should follow your writer’s heart 🙂 Oh, and to answer the question no I have never written from fear however you have truly made me think about it. Again, great post 🙂

    • Thanks very much, Virginia… perhaps I’ll take your advice. Some of those fears are definitely on my list of things to write about, though I’ve got plenty of other things to write about now that aren’t as daunting.

  2. I’m a mother and I know exactly what you mean. I have a hard time reading, let alone writing, about violent circumstances with children (which would be my greatest fear). I guess I lack that edge right now. There are so many other things to write about for me that I release myself from pushing the envelope this way. Maybe I’m a wimp. Maybe not…

    • I don’t think it’s wimpy… it’s some form of the protective mamma bear instinct, I think. But if I wasn’t so scared, I’d definitely consider it. Maybe I still will. When I finish all this other stuff!!

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