Let’s talk about fear

I’ve been working on a poem that I really want to get right. I love doing this, the revising, the niggling over words. But the big revision–the “sack this and come at it from another direction”–scares me. I’ve relied on minor tweaks, and today even that makes me nervous.

What’s with this fear?

(Remember Dune? “Fear is the mind-killer.”)

I thought about writing a blog post. Not this one, but something about who we write for, or something about sound in poetry, or about submitting. But the blank page looms up like the abominable snowman.

This fear gets me nothing (except investment in distractions).

Honestly, I thought I’d been around the block enough times–and taken enough classes and read enough books–to get past this. I know that you just have to start. Take yourself by the hand and tell yourself whatever you need to hear:

The first draft doesn’t have to be perfect.

If you can’t get it to work, you don’t have to show it to anyone.

Each attempt gets you closer–if not to this poem, then to the next one.

Just try to find another word for _________.

The poem’s resting now. I’m not quite happy with one of the images, but I’m hoping time will help me come up with something new. Those other blog posts might have to wait. This is what I had today. Some fear (along with the garden-variety worries about what to make for dinner tomorrow night).

The house is quiet. Maybe I’ll just read. Thanks to Martha Silano’s recent posts, I just picked up a copy of Madness, Rack, and Honey by Mary Ruefle.

What scares you when you try to write? (If anything?) How do you get past it?

2 Replies to “Let’s talk about fear”

  1. I’ve found that fear and sorrow are closely linked. I can appreciate the sight of the poem resting. very nice. Of course for me, I find the same is true when I get stuck on an image. I just became unstuck this morning by drawing two seemingly incongruous scenes into one scene. I hope it works. Good Luck

  2. I’m intrigued by the idea of drawing two scenes in one. I’ve combined two poems into one–but I like imagining the combination of two visual experiences.

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