Write what scares you

At a support group meeting this evening, I discussed my childhood fantasies with complete strangers. It was both terrifying, and relieving. I told them I couldn’t remember much of my childhood, because I spent most of the time escaping into worlds of my own creation. I knew I was being bullied, I knew I was miserable. So I made a decision.

I just won’t be here. I will be somewhere else.

Rosa Sophia in 1991
Rosa Sophia in 1991

I became quite good at leaving my body and drifting away into a story. It was a ritual. I would arrive at school, go through the motions, sit at my desk– and then depart.

A good friend of mine often mentions people we went to school with, but I never remember any of them, and if I do it’s like a shadow, a distant familiarity I can’t put my finger on. But I remember the stories I told myself. I remember those very well.

In every story, it was dark. I would walk through my house and realize my mother and brother were gone. They had been kidnapped by malevolent entities, bent on murdering them and coming for me next. Because I was such a brave girl, I would leave the house to save them, heading straight for an abandoned mansion on a hill, knowing my family was trapped there, and it was only a matter of time before I lost them. Deftly, I would sneak into the derelict building, destroy the enemy, and rescue my family. At the same time, I would inadvertently free the ghost of a boy who’d been imprisoned there for many years, and he would fall in love with me. Meanwhile, my mother and brother would gush over me, telling me how wonderful I was, and how grateful they were that I’d saved their lives.

My brother Miles and I in June, 1991.
My brother Miles and I in June, 1991.

I was reading a book the other day that recommended write what scares you the most. I told the group I’ve been trying to do just that, but something is eluding me. I’m on page 225 of a novel unlike anything I’ve ever written, and much of the topic frightens me. The story involves alcoholism, love, betrayal, and coping with psychological problems rooted in childhood. I spend a lot of time crying when I’m writing this book.

But there’s something in there I can’t quite grasp. Maybe it’s hidden in the shadows in that derelict mansion, or perhaps those amorphous entities are keeping the secret from me. And so I endeavor to write what scares me the most, because I figure it’s not only a way to write a darned good story, but it’s also a way for me to escape the shackles that bind me.

What scares you the most? How do you incorporate it into your writing?

Sometimes I’m too afraid of what other people will think to write what truly frightens me and expose it to the masses.

How about you? 


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