Afraid to Write

Each time we put our feet out of bed, each time we create something, each time we defend our rights, each time we remain silent when we know we should speak up, each time we ask for help, we are all battling our fears. Sometimes, even each breath we take is a battle, but society demands that we hide our fears and pretend our lives are perfect, or we risk being unworthy of love.

One day, I got tired of playing that game, so here is the bare naked truth: I am afraid but I refuse to let my fears defeat me. So, with each post like the one you’re about to read, I recognize those fears, and then I move on.

Hello there. Here I am, after many years of wanting to keep a blog, with over more than ten failed attempts at doing so, trying again. This new attempt comes with a question that won’t stop popping up in my mind ever since I failed the first time: why do I write?

I am not going to lie. An intuitive answer that comes to me is that I do have the “American dream” internalized. You know the one, where I will be discovered and celebrated as a wonder both by my books and my ingenious posts, and hey, earn a lot of money. That never does hurt, right? This idea, ingrained into society for too many years, by too many fairy tales, books, movies, and success stories, needs a lot of inner digging to go beyond that surface answer and get to the real answer.

However, I never did dig. I was always rushing after the next goal: get my college degree, get my PhD, start my plastic-free bath product company, publish enough scientific papers to deserve an entry position at the national research council, etc. Don’t get me wrong, I am so proud of achieving all those goals. And I plan to continue to enjoy doing environmental research and providing my grain of sand to this plastic epidemic we also have, but I’ve always been a writer at heart.

I was eight years old when I was writing the adventures of my cats on my family’s computer. I was a teenager when I wrote short stories to escape classes where I didn’t ever feel welcome. I was a first-year biochemistry student when I gave up my dream of ever writing again, and I was a PhD student about to finish my thesis when I realized I could still be a writer despite working on something else.

Still, I kept rushing through my life, attempting to write, trying to blog, without really digging into the real reason that drove me to write.

I guess a family death mixed with a world-wide quarantine does have a way of forcing us to stop with the endless rush hour of our lives… Both craving to write and wanting blog have remained now that I am standing still. 

I faced a decision. I could continue like always and attempt to have another failed blog, or I could sit down and think, and see what lurked behind this recurring desire. And maybe, just maybe, change my recurring pattern of failure.

It was time to sit down and have a talk with myself.

Why write a blog, when I want to be a fiction writer? Why keep a blog when I don’t know what to write about? Isn’t that the reason why I failed on all my previous attempts? Isn’t it that when I sat in front of the page, my mind went blank and nothing real, nothing that connected with others, came up? Isn’t it that I didn’t consider any of the topics interesting enough, funny enough? Is it that I thought my point of view wasn’t worthy enough for someone else to be interested in reading my blog? Wasn’t it because I am afraid of not having a voice that deserves to be heard?

The answer was yes to all those reasons. Basically, I failed because I thought I had nothing to say. And perhaps I don’t. I may not have anything earth-shattering to say. Possibly, this blog will be nothing, but one of the billions of sites that most of the world doesn’t even know exists, that only a few family members and friends, out of love of me, the writer, will ever read.

Great, now I knew why I couldn’t really keep a blog. I was afraid. Afraid of myself, of the what will others think, but I still hadn’t answered the question of why I want to write a blog.

I continued to think. I filled pages with brainstorming, trying to find the reason why, and at some point, the ideas gelled together, and I understood. I want to write a blog for the same reason I want to write my fiction books.

I write because I have no other choice.

There are ideas I have that won’t let go of me no matter how far I run away from them, attitudes in others and in myself that I just can’t get my head around to explain. We all like to think of ourselves as good people, as people who will do the right thing when the moment arises. I write because I’m afraid I don’t know the answers to all those situations.

Writing, I’ve found, is the tool I have to to understand them. Writing lets me explore situations I’m not brave enough to face in real life, to control everything so that I am safe and sound when a result I fear comes to light. Writing lets me imagine who I would like to be in those situations, and perhaps having that answer will let me act better if it ever happens for real.

I’ve come to realize, after a long time, that underneath all those social constructions I’ve incorporated all my life, I don’t know who I am. I do know that I love to create, yet fear it more than anything else at the same time.

So, I write to find out who I am, so that I can face my fears and be my own hero. I write so I can explore what not being perfect means and learn not to expect myself to be that dream person that doesn’t really exist. Yet, at the same time, strive to be better than my base self.

And I write it publicly, through creative fiction or non-fiction, so that maybe my answers are useful to someone else, too.

Published by Vanesa L. Perillo

Finding the balance between fear and courage* *Inspired by Cara E. Yar Khan

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: