Fear is such a small word, and such an awful emotion. I feel frightened right now, bordering on panicked. I’ve just finished writing a short short that’s left me trembling. My jaw and stomach are clenched, and I have that sickening sensation that something is scraping the back of my throat.
I want to submit this short short because I think it’s good and genuine, but it’s scandalous. I think Pindeldyboz for one would accept it. I’ve long wanted to publish with Pindeldyboz. But do I have the courage to allow this piece into the world?
Much like my piece “Snatches” in Storyglossia 33, I think this one would scandalize many. I’m afraid of that type of exposure, judgment, and criticism. I thought I’d die after publishing “Snatches.” Seriously. Because of the explicit nature of much of my work I’m afraid people will think less of me, and most terrifying of all, of my young daughters.
Sometimes I feel frightened and ashamed of my work because so much of it is around sex, sexuality, and abuse. The writer in me is so much braver and fiercer than the rest of me. There’s so many I can’t share my writing with. This makes me feel sad and confused.
On Monday, Monkeybicycle (online) will publish my short “Under Water.” After “Snatches” produced gasps and fingerpointing from some, I felt mortified and withdrew “Under Water” from consideration at three magazines.
Once I recovered from that wound, I felt compelled to resubmit “Under Water” and am thrilled that Jessa Marsh at Monkeybicycle accepted it. Yet the fear is also there. That “can I really publish that?” terror.
I could use a pseudonym, I know, but that seems self-defeating. Throughout my childhood, I kept secrets and felt that no one, least of all my parents, truly knew or understood me. It’s damaging. I’m still trying to come out of hiding. What, though, will writing what I need to write cost me and my family? And why do I need to write about all that anyway?
Some of my favorite writers in this community are fierce and fearless, and some of their best work centers on these very themes. Is it at all frightening for you? Do you feel comfortable with your subject matters? Proud? Defiant? Or is there a part of you that also quakes? I'd love to know.
For me, exposure and the why and what of my writing is an ongoing battle. Meanwhile, I’m saying what I need to say and hoping I’m doing the right thing.