My Sincere Gratitude + (special bonus!) My Dribble Cup of Fear

@a long, long time ago   Beret Olsen
@2003   Beret Olsen

I have no idea how it happened.

Somehow a lovely story wrangler named Michelle stumbled across my essay about sleeping in the hallway.

I find myself wondering: what are the odds? And I marvel a little at the sheer luck of it. I must have posted my essay on the right day, at the right time, on a topic she found interesting. I must have put just the right tags on it.

But what has been truly astonishing was that all of a sudden a whole community of writers appeared, and I realized that we are not on our own out here in cyberspace at all. I feel immense gratitude that you have taken the time to read my words and relate them to your own lives, and I’ve had the pleasure of reading your work as well.

Thank you.

Unfortunately, the inevitable has happened: I got stage fright. I am TERRIFIED to write anything at all.  I’m not typing away in a room by myself anymore, because now I know I am not alone. Someone might see if I have a crap day or make a poor word choice. Someone might judge my grammar errors as harshly as I would theirs. Mostly kidding.

Perhaps most paralyzing of all is the thought that I might not be able to write something worthwhile again before you all lose interest and wander off. Shoot, what if I never write something I like as well again?

Fortunately, someone showed me this quote from John Steinbeck when he was beginning to write The Grapes of Wrath:

“I don’t know whether I could write a decent book now,” he said. “That is the greatest fear of all. I’m working at it but I can’t tell. Something is poisoned in me. You pages—ten of you—you are the dribble cup—you are the cloth to wipe up the vomit. Maybe I can get these fears and disgusts on you and then burn you up. Then maybe I won’t be so haunted. I have to pretend it’s that way anyhow.”

I include this quote not because I am putting myself in his league, but because fear and writing seem to go hand in hand for many of us, no matter who we are, or what we have previously accomplished. But THAT IS NOT AN EXCUSE TO STOP. Imagine if Steinbeck had caved to his self-doubt and neglected to finish his novel. What a loss.

Thankfully, we don’t have to write The Grapes; that’s already been done. But we DO have something to say and a remarkably friendly forum in which to say it.

Well, it looks like I just wrote a whole post about not being able to write a post. Hope that is out of my system, now; that I can ‘burn these pages’ and move on to other topics. Come to think of it, you might be hoping the same thing. Now go write something awesome.

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