I’ve faced the obstacle of fear one too many times while writing this memoir.
“What is it now?” You might be asking. “You’ve already talked about fear of your family not being pleased with your book; what the devil is it now?”
Glad you asked.
Last week, I was writing about my sophomore year of college. It wasn’t a year in which I spoke to my father a lot, so much of this writing focuses on the underlying impact that our lack of relationship had on me. That means that I’m writing more about my relationships with my friends and with guys that I was interested in (who were, of course, not interested in me. But that’s alright now.) As I sat down to write a scene in which I had a conversation with one of these crushes, my heart started pacing so badly that I had to leave my co-working space, come home, and have a fig bar and some tea. THAT BAD.
It took only about half the cup of tea (though all of the fig bar) for me to realize that the ickiness in my stomach, the sensation of bugs crawling on my flesh, was actually fear.
Why would I be afraid of writing about a conversation that happened over ten years ago, that is now so inconsequential, that I practically got hives?
Part of me believes that the visceral reaction is an answered prayer. I have prayed multiple times for God to let me feel the same feelings that I felt back then so that I can properly express them in writing. But with those sensations come the fear of being rejected all over again.
Yep, I said that.
It is a fear of being rejected by that same guy all over again.
“But, Vonetta,” you might be saying, “you already know what’s going to happen!”
Exactly! That’s the problem! I know that I’m going to get rejected and it is incredibly embarrassing.
“But, Vonetta, you’re married to wonderful man!”
I know, I say, shaking my head slowly. But that doesn’t change how I feel every time I think about that conversation.
This left me with a couple of options. I could either (a) skip that part and continue pretending none of it ever happened or (b) swallow my pride, face my fear, and write the damn scene so that others can gain a measure of comfort from my embarrassment and be a little bit soothed by my vulnerability.
I understood that (b) was my only option, but, man, (a) was really tempting. But I wrote it out, wincing all the while, and I got through it. I felt the feelings again, and they sucked again, but everything is okay now, just as it was then. I don’t know why I didn’t tell myself back then that being rejected by one guy wasn’t the end of the world. But that’s the benefit of hindsight and one of the easiest parts of writing a memoir. The hard part is believing that the future will wind up being okay, too.