What is it about fear? It shapes and molds us, makes decisions on our behalf, builds obstacles and then throws them in our path. It puts up walls and encapsulates us in a prison of our own making. Fear wields an almighty power over our lives … because we allow it.
The result of fear is a life half lived. We will never reach our full potential and we miss out on so much. Example: Hiking through the hills during my scouting years, I strode down the middle of the path, head down, eyes scanning the brush for snakes—due to ophiophobia (fear of snakes). I missed out on enjoying good times and laughs with friends, taking in the scenery, and all because I couldn’t get past my fear and enjoy the moment. My fear controlled me on those hikes.
The idea for Speak No Evil captured me from the moment it arrived. A teenage girl who had been through so much trauma, she became afraid to speak. Every time she spoke out about things that had happened to her, something worse followed. Melody’s silence was her fortress — the walls she put up against encroachment by the outside world. But it became her prison.
To say that I fell in love with the story immediately may be an understatement. I was itching to write it. The characters were fantastic. The story compelling. It haunted not only my dreams but also my waking moments. But other than capturing scenes and making notes, doing research, I didn’t write.
Why didn’t I dive in? I’m no stranger to reaching the end of the story only to realize while the concept is good, the words on the page are a hot mess and need a LOT of editing. I’m one of those writers who actually enjoys most (not all) of the editing process because that is what makes the work shine. But still I wouldn’t write it. I was afraid.
Afraid I wouldn’t be able to handle the story in the way I saw it in my head. Afraid the story was bigger than my talent as a writer. The LAST thing I wanted to do was to fail Melody — fail her story.
Any time I would think about starting a draft, the little gremlin on my shoulder whispered in my ear, but you’re not ready. I had allowed fear to stop me from sharing this story.
Then, after a couple of years and a swift verbal kick up the backside from Italia Gandolfo, I conquered my fear … well, conquered is probably too strong a word. I told my fear to hush because the time had come. Then I put the butt in the chair and fingers on the keyboard.
“You will never learn to fly if you let someone else carry your wings.”
My characters talk to me … and not always about the story. As I got to know Quatie Raincrow, Melody’s first foster mother, she said, “You will never learn to fly if you let someone else carry your wings.” It’s one of the first things she said. The context? A scene that never made it into the book. The scene itself wasn’t important, but the words were. They were meant more for me than for the story at that point.
It’s true. If you don’t strap on those wings and take a leap of faith, you’ll never learn to fly. It’s about having courage to do the things you’re passionate about. So it has become a personal motto of mine. When I hang back and don’t move forward into a new venture because I might fail, I take a deep breath and put my wings on. Am I going to fail? Yes, but I’ll dust myself off, and try again. Usually the thought of failure doesn’t hold me back, but when it does, I know I need to strap on those wings and reach for the sky.