"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Sunday, October 23, 2011

The heart of fear

Horror, much like humor, is subjective. What makes one person's hair stand on end and do a little dance can make the person sitting next to him say, "But when does it get scary?"

Some people are frightened by extrasensory "talents" of others. I suppose they are afraid of being inferior to, or under the influence of, someone with special powers. I mean, do you want to piss off Carrie White and have her pick you up and slam you through a window?

Me neither.

For some, it's all about monsters. Even though the Alien doesn't exist in reality, monsters touch those people (like me) who have a feeling there ARE things that go bump in the night. Or maybe they're people who demonize the worst in humanity and give it form. Whatever the psychological reason, either he scares you or he doesn't.

Let's face it - all of these stories frighten me. I'm a big scaredy cat. But nothing scares me as much as...

(Insert dramatic Ta-Da-Daaaaa music.)

Self doubt.

Humility is fine, and I don't like to spend a lot of time with those Human Peacocks who like to strut and talk about what They've Created, as if they directed the Hand of God. There is a line to walk, though, and when I fall too far to the back side, I'm capable of stopping my creativity.

Bette Midler has a wonderful example of this in her book A View from A Broad. She included a letter she wrote to her sister, in which she is expressing a hesitancy to end her tour in Hawaii, her childhood home. "If a prophet is without honor in his own country, what about a loudmouth like me?" she writes. "I'm always afraid Mrs. Burke (her hula teacher) will suddenly appear, and picking me up by the back of the neck like some great tabby, announce to one and all, 'This hussy is a fraud.'"

This hussy is a fraud. (Insert screeching violins here.)

So is it just me and the Divine Miss M who work hard to the point of madness, to overcome our feelings that we are really bulls**tting our way through the universe? Or do you feel it and fear it, too?

If so, what are some of the things you do to convince yourself that, while you may not be a Most Brightly Plumaged Genius, you are still a helluva creative force?


Tameri Etherton said...

What do I do to make me think I'm still a helluva creative force? I keep writing.

And then I hang out with cool folks like you in the bar.

Then I write some more and show it to people.

Then I sob in my pillow when they tell me I suck. But just a little. I could suck worse.

Then I'm happy again.

Geez, I always think I'm a fraud. Everyone can write better than me (except Snooki), that's why they are published and I'm not. Someday, though I'll be published and probably still think I'm a fraud.

By the way, Carrie scares me more than that creepy guy.

Gayle Carline said...

Yeah, Carrie scares me more, too, although if you ever saw that movie, you'd think her mom was scary times infinity. This post was actually inspired by my son, who was full of self doubt one evening as we chatted on Facebook. I thought we raised this fabulous child and he has the same feelings of being a fraud that I do - how does that happen?

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