Matt Perryman

Afraid of facing being afraid

By Matt Perryman

A few days ago I watched a talk and Q&A session with writer J. Michael Straczynski. He’s written a lot of things, though I know him best as the creator of Babylon 5.

At one point in the Q&A, he told a questioner about the power of fear to stop you in your tracks.

He said to the effect that learning to see the fear and push into it anyway makes the difference between a rocketship to success and stardom, and the burn-out in a roach motel twiddling his thumbs over a script for 30 years.

That made me stop in my own tracks and think on it, because it’s 110% true.

The extra 10% comes from the lies we tell ourselves about fear.

Fear can own you even when you recognize its hooks in you.

Fear can make you afraid to face your fear.

I don’t mean going down into the dark basement and flipping on the lights to prove there’s no John Carpenter creations lurking in the corner.

I’m talking about facing the fear. The emotional state. The psychic and physiological response to a perceived threat.

Fear can become a state of comfortable discomfort. BDSM analogies apply. You know, if you’re into that kind of thing.

Fear can make you afraid of being fearless. People can get addicted to most anything that involves excitement of the body and the mind.

What would you do without your daily hit of anxiety?

I used to hang out in online writing communities before I figured out that online writing communities are tar-pits for broken people to trap you with their misery.

It’s one excuse after another. What if, what if, what if?

What if you shut up and sat down at the keyboard for an hour of unbroken work?

No, that would never work.

I’m not sure exactly why creative types go through this, but we all do. I’ve heard every explanation from the evolutionary to the psychoanalytical to the existential and supernatural.

Like most puzzles of this nature, nobody knows–or is ever likely to know.

What is certain, and what makes it so sinister, is that there is nothing behind this shapeless anxiety.

No thing makes you experience the dread and terror of using your mind to create.

At the bottom of it all there’s only an overactive imagination and a floppy flaccid ego unwilling to challenge itself.

It’s all you.

Which, in a sad irony, doesn’t change anything. But at least it’s on the table, and you can face it.

I don’t know if that helps you at all, in whatever you’re putting off, but it helped me to write it out.

Matt Perryman

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