A List of Fears
(exercise: tick all that apply)

of failure
of success
of inadequacy
of being caught short
of being found out
of the blank page
of revealing intimate details
of feeling stupid
of typos or punctuation or bad grammar
of presumption
of being laughed at
of new things or old things
of something borrowed
of new topics or new methods
of research or hard work or perfection
of rejection or dejection or ejection
of losing yourself or finding yourself
of caring or not caring
of the unknown or the unknowable
of peer pressure
of speaking out loud
of being unable to write like …
of being wrong or right
of political or social consequences
of free speech
of hurting others
of being misunderstood or understood
of large or small audiences
of clothing or mechanical failure
of starting or finishing or writer’s block
of having nothing to say
of having nothing worthwhile to say

fear of fear

Last Saturday, in Quispamsis, I facilitated a two hour workshop on things that writers fear. I began with a list of all the things that I have feared at various times during my writing career. This morning, I turned, with great trepidation, those fears into the list poem I reproduce above.  If you wish to discuss any of these fears, or add other fears of your own to the list, and remember, this is a list of writers’ fears, then please do so. I will be happy to enter into a dialog.
As for the fear of feeling stupid, I often offer this small piece of advice. It has been known to comfort those who actually have a fear of feeling stupid. (1) buy a small fluffy toy, preferably a Teddy Bear, that will fit into your pocket or purse. (2) christen that small fluffy toy with the name of Stupid. (3) you carry Stupid around with you all day knowing that you can put your hand in your pocket or purse and feel Stupid all day and nobody is going to know or care.
The moral of the story is this: when you can laugh at your fears, you fear them no more. And remember: you can stop feeling Stupid whenever you want to.

4 thoughts on “Fear

  1. Hi Roger,
    Great list. Makes you think. I wish I could have been there in Quispamsis. Maybe we should have a chat about fears next time we’re out having sushi (I used to fear eating sushi, but that one is in the past).
    Thanks for sharing Roger.


    • Thanks for commenting, Steve. We all shared our fears and discussed how we had faced them, how we had come to terms with them, how we had defeated them. It was a very good session. All I did as facilitator was walk around and listen to the wisdom of the room. The best teaching wells up, like pure water, from that deep well within us: it is rarely imposed from outside.


    • I think I missed a couple from the original list I circulated. We are such fearful beings. One or two people in the workshop didn’t circle any of the “fears” … one or two circulated almost all of them. What came out strongly in the discussions was the way in which so many of these fears were interlinked in one way or another. Hopefully just talking about them and sharing them helps us to understand and overcome them.


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