This week, I want to talk about fear.
Originally, I had planned this week’s articles to talk about fear as it relates to the spooky, trick-or-treat, Halloween spirit. Yet now, in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy and given some events that I recently learned about in the writing community last week, the fear I want to discuss is far more sobering.
I live in New York City. At least half the members of the DIY MFA team–plus many collaborators and close friends–live in the areas affected by Hurricane/Tropical Storm Sandy. I’ve actually lived through four hurricanes/tropical storms in my lifetime, three in New York and one (Hurricane Andrew) while vacationing in southern Florida, when I was kid. That time we were in the evacuation zone and had to pack up and leave that same day, which for a kid of twelve is more an adventure than something that would bring on fear. This weekend I experienced fear: fear for my husband and son, my loved ones, my colleagues, my cats, myself, and even my work.
The latter perhaps might seem the most trivial, but when your work depends on a computer or online connection, the prospect of having that work washed away or destroyed can be terrifying. One bad gust of wind could blow in a window, drench the computer and poof! it could all be gone. Everything I have worked on for so many years could disappear with one blast of Mother Nature’s fury.
Hurricane tip: Back up ALL your work onto SEVERAL flash and external hard drives. Seal them in plastic bags and hide them in various safe places, including at least one on your person at all times. And even if you take all the necessary precautions, you’ll probably still have that nagging doubt: what if I lose everything?
All things considered, aside from the fear of floods destroying paper copies or a power outage getting in the way of writing time, storms like Sandy don’t effect us writing folk too badly. Many of us can write from our homes so flooded subways, tunnels or offices don’t get in the way. Even a power outage can be circumvented if we use a notebook and pen. All in all, writers can stay indoors, safe and dry during the storm, while other people are called to duty and do the truly heroic work.
As I look out onto the city, much of which is still without power (we are in one of the lucky neighborhoods that does have power) it makes me guilty that I should let something as miniscule as fear of losing my work rattle me when others are experiencing much worse. Losing homes. Losing loved ones. Losing everything, truly everything.
And yet as I consider the events of the past few days, I try not to be too hard on myself. Just because losing one’s writing is not life-threatening does not make the fear any less valid. Only writers can really understand the pain that would come from losing a manuscript. Our characters, after all, are like close friends. We love them and talk to them the way we would with real people. Losing all of that would be difficult indeed.
Today, I want to know: What is your writing fear?
Please share in the comments or if you prefer to write a response on your own blog, please leave a link so that we can read it.
To those who have suffered any loss in the storm, please know that you’re in my thoughts and prayers.