The Fear of Writing Too Close for Comfort

I’m in the middle of working on my second novel, a gritty tale of perverse friendship, stunted growth, and daddy issues. I’m madly in love with it but one thing—one damn so-freakin-cliche thing—continues to plague me: Fear.

When I was writing my first novel, I didn’t have this problem. I blame ignorance. It shielded me from fear. From doubt. From insecurity. I wrote fast and unfiltered. It was all so secretive; endless nights of coffee and clicking—everyone asleep and unaware that I was in fact not in the house, I was in my book. Curled up in lies. Laughs. Tears. Hard truths—ones no one would ever read because my book only existed in two place: my mind and my laptop, and I guarded both with care.

But here I am now. Book number 2, and there is no secret. My family knows I’m writing it. Friends know what it’s about. Fellow writers have already sampled pages. Yellow Post-Its line the walls of my office, each with a title—a scene. It’s all out there. The experience is no longer mine, it’s everyone’s. Now when my husband catches me on my laptop at 2am, he will no longer shake his head in a “you’re crazy, girl” fashion. The taboo is gone, and my once forbidden routine is now normal, and I find myself questioning if I’m going about this all wrong. I look at my new manuscript and think, “Is this unfiltered? Am I holding back because everyone is looking? Or am I just scared to tell this story the way I want to tell it?”

Upon finishing book one, I realized the end result was so much more personal than I had originally intended, and I remember being freaked out—worried what people would think of me because I wrote those scenes. I manifested those words. I don’t doubt I’ll face that same freak-out once this new book is complete.

I love writing books loosely based off of personal experience, toeing the line between truth and fiction, leaving the reader to wonder. But at the end of that aesthetic, there lies a swimming pool of insecurity, and my fear of drowning in it.

I know this is just part of the process when tackling subject matter that is possibly too close to reality, too close to the truth. But I must recognize these things. I must call them out before they call me. Fear is the killer of all that is good; I must remember that tomorrow when I pour my coffee,  open my laptop, and write something else that feels almost too close for comfort.

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