Tag Archives: fear

Song of Hope

Late afternoon sun lights up the end of the long hallway. It’s quiet and still. I’m here alone, sitting on a convenient chair just outside the closed door. I’m waiting for it to open.

I know the drill. Somebody’s in there right now, another homeschool highschooler, presenting their interp to the row of judges. I would love to watch, but I never watch right before I give my own speech. I need time to focus. Rehearse the lines silently in my head. After that, just wait.

The nerves start to play with you when you’re waiting for the door to open, but that’s nothing new. You find ways of calming yourself, and though you always stay a little afraid, the thrill of performing soon overcomes the butterflies.

I have space in this hallway, in this Korean church and school in New Jersey, to settle down and mentally prepare for my speech. The diffuse glow on the linoleum floors is soft and pleasant. Once again, I feel the nerves tie my stomach in knots.

Go away, I tell them. I shift in the kid’s chair. Still nervous. Quietly, I begin to sing to myself, sing the nerves away.

It’s Song of Hope, and it’s one of my tournament theme songs. At least, it became my theme song that day. It’s a song that makes you feel small, in a good way. It made speech room stage fright up and disappear when I needed it to.

Typically fear follows me into the competition room and remains for the first few seconds of performance until I find my groove and stay there. Not this time. This time when the door opens I’m ready, standing with an easy smile.

I enter and walk to the center of the room. The judges are finishing writing down their thoughts from the previous performance. I hold up my name tag where they can easily see.

“My name is Kira Gregory. Are the judges ready?” They nod. “The timer?” Yup. “Let’s begin.”

Stranger World

How do you prepare for the scariest thing that’s ever happened to you?

You wait. You wonder. You cry. You push it away.

You’re “fine” once you’ve pushed it away. You’re so good you hardly know you’ve done it.

Till something makes you remember, and you feel the jolt, it’s closer now. It’s gaining on you. And it’s going to catch you, no matter how fast you run.

How do you prepare to be caught?

You can think about the other side. You can think of the last time this happened to you, remember that the scariest things turn into the best things. But that doesn’t help until you’re on the flip side.

Really all you can do is know that you made the right choice. It won’t seem like the right choice. It’s going to be hard. It’s going to hurt. It’s going to be sad. And you’ll be alone.

Know you made the right choice when it’s about to catch you. Know the price you pay is directly related to the prize you glean. Know pain counts for something. Know it will be worth it, one way or another.

Welcome to the world, stranger.

Guitar Monster

It’s a monster!

Two legs, three arms, at least one head, and it’s making noise! What is that thing? We can’t tell. We don’t know. We’re running away!

Chickens are scared of guitars. They’re not too smart.

Wait, what’s that chattery sound? What’s that jar? The monster has corn! Oh! Oh! What do we do? How do we get the corn?

Chickens are crazy about corn. Even when it’s near a guitar.

Eek, run, the monster’s close! It’s opening the door! Quick, scoot out when it’s not looking. There. Wait, it’s throwing corn! GET THE CORN! This has got to be a safe distance, right? Now that it’s giving us corn…

Corn trumps guitar monster.

Seasons of Change

Spring has long been my favorite season. I love to feel the aura of growth everywhere, of the world waking up. Even at night I can sense the change through the temperature and tone of the wind.

Now it’s late summer, and change is coming again. The sun’s light is clearer with lower humidity, so everything looks brighter. The slanting rays will get much lower before the leaves fall, but this year I can feel that the warm days are numbered, and it seems the plants and insects know as well. In spring the change is more sudden, but fall’s magic is just as strong.

moglosmall
Morning glory, dill seeds, and cilantro blossoms in my garden.

These are the two turning points of the year. I think they’re the most spellbinding.

Oddly, when seasons change in my own life, they don’t get a warm welcome. After a few years of college and attempting to be a grown-up, I know that events I feel the most apprehension about are the ones that change me the most and result in the most learning. Driving a car. Figuring out how to manage a film shoot come rain or shine and only one chance. Attacking unexplored subject material. I fear the unknown, but after looking back on the new experiences I’ve survived, I see that excursions into uncharted territory yield the strongest memories—they make me feel more alive.

Seasons of change are beautiful. They come in bursts. And just like Autumn’s leaves of fire, they don’t last for long.

morninglight2
Stereopair with sumacs!

Eliminate Graphophobia (Fear of Writing)

This summer, I resolved to finish editing the draft of my first novel. Unfortunately, since this was my first novel, I’d never done any novel-editing before. What is this editing business anyway, I thought, and how do I do it? It seemed to me that nobody really knew what editing was, so I struck out on my own to find out.

I had 60,000+ words to go through and three months to do it in—quite an intimidating task for a beginning novelist! So, I started an experiment. I resolved to spend one hour each day “editing” this novel, and even allowed myself to consider “staring at the words on my computer screen” novel editing. This approach was similar to NaNoWriMo style, except the pressure was off—I didn’t actually have to do anything, and I knew this editing task would only take an hour per day. Great! I was worry-free about writing—for a while at least.

Then something new began to bother me. Which hour of my day would this writing hour be? Early, or late? Starting at half-past an hour, or right on the hour? (Writers obsess about these things.) This was no fun—instead of focusing on the writing itself, I was burning energy just trying to decide what time I should write!

My summer job saved the day by forcing me into a rigid writing schedule. Every day at 4PM, I begin work on my novel. Since I’ve formed this habit of writing at a regular, specified time, my days are mostly worry-free. I know when I’ll write, and I know that I will write—a habit that’s hard to break.

In his book The Courage to Write: How Writers Transcend Fear, Ralph Keyes wrote,

Fear is felt by writers at every level. Anxiety accompanies the first word they put on paper and the last.

I must disagree with this quote—if you’re having this much trouble writing, you’re not doing it right! Keyes also wrote,

Willa Cather said that she write best when she stopped trying to write and began simply to remember.

This is how you write without fear. Set a time, form a habit, and begin remembering. Remembering is easy, and when you make your writing habit into a routine, the words will disappear and only memories will show on the page.