I thought it might be time to talk about three things very near and dear to my heart lately. Anyone who’s read the site lately knows that I’m getting married at the end of the month in a big Las Vegas soiree-cum-vacation. Sounds like a blast, right? Well, just one problem: I’m utterly terrified of flying.
There, I admit it. Terrified. That’s the right word for it. The thought of takeoff – the engine cycling up, the bumps, the world going near-vertical – makes me shake in my boots. It’s not even the safety issues. I know that flying is one of the safest, if not the safest, ways to travel. I know that I’d have to fly daily for 21,000 years to hit the statistical odds of a crash (although how this comforts I’m not 100% certain as I’m quite sure folks who were in a crash didn’t fly that much). I’ve read all the stats, I can tell you how a plane works inside and out, and I’ve flown quite extensively. I know that, generally speaking, I’m incredibly safe.
Yet I’m petrified, and the closer we get to the flight, now two weeks out, the worse it gets, to the point that it’s interfering with my life. When the time comes, I know I’ll get on the plane and I’ll be fine. I have medication for that, but in the meantime, I’m struggling mightily. I just hate almost everything about it: the speed, the cramped quarters, the all-or-nothing nature of it. I suspect, in fact, that that anxiety has contributed to my own, very bad, ongoing battle with asthmatic bronchitis.
So why talk about all this? Because it’s occurred to me that it has a lot in common with pursuing a writing career. Both involve a big leap of faith, and courage to overcome the fears that haunt you. When it comes to writing, those fears may seem more mundane: am I good enough to make it, why is my story special, should I even be doing this, am I fooling myself, etc. The thing is, I think there’s a direct connection between those feelings and the feelings I get when I think of flying. Both are unnatural, both are things that can easily be avoided, both are about taking risks to expand and live a fuller life. We could have chosen a closer, “safer” location for our wedding, but it would have missed out on having such a fun place, her family being able to attend, and a lot of great memories.
So I’m going to face down my fears – I haven’t allowed them to run my life to this point and I’ll be damned if I start now. That goes for flying and writing. For awhile there I considered going to traditional publishing because it seemed safer (and the benefits sounded like ones I wanted), but rationally, I think staying indie is the right choice for me. I’m still working through this one and need to weigh the overall pros and cons, but I can see that fear was driving some of my decision-making, and that needs to be removed from the equation.
Does fear ever take the wheel in your career? How do you handle it?