Wednesday, March 2, 2011

The FEAR of writing Pt. 1

Fear is one of the strongest emotions that we have as human beings. As writers, fear is a powerful aspect of writing for several reasons.
  • We are driven by fear that we don't have enough time to write and tell all the stories that we would like to. Fear of time.
  • Once those stories are unleashed upon the world we fear what our young readers will think. Will they like it or loathe it? Fear of acceptance
  • Many of our stories for children and young adults are based on primal fear. The what if factor. What if that dark shadow in the corner comes for me. Fear of the unknown.
Fellow Bree Ogden client, Kelsey Ketch and I are going to talk about fear and how it affected us as we grew up and how it has shaped us as writers.

One common fear that Kelsey and I share are the fear of spiders. Like most people in the world we get the heebie-jeebies from our eight legged freaky friends and what they are capable of. Fear of the unknown.

DM: When I was young, around nine years old I remember falling asleep in the basement of my aunt's house during the summer and waking up to find a large brown spider sitting on the middle of my chest starring at me. All eyes on me. I was completely paralyzed with fear. If I move, it will move. What if it runs toward my mouth or up my nose? What if it bites me? Every scenario of doom passed through my brain within ten seconds. With a sweep of my hand I pushed it off and up into the air. It managed to attach a thread of web to my hand and dangle as I jumped around screaming bloody murder. Finally, I was able to shake it loose and it crawled toward the fireplace and vanished. Did I ever sleep on the floor again? No. Never. To this day I have nightmares of spiders attacking me. When I am having anxiety it takes form of spiders in my dreams.

Kelsey, tell me about your spider incident while I shiver over here in the corner.

Kelsey: Eeeech! That was creepy, it really made my skin crawl! Holy moly!

Like you, I was around nine when my spider incident occurred. I was sitting in the living room when I noticed a large, reddish spider crawling along the ceiling. I remember its form perfectly, about one inch long with a large bulbous abdomen. I frantically pointed it out to my mum. I was too scared to squish it myself, especially something that size. Besides, at that age, I probably wouldn’t be able to reach it.

My mum stepped up onto the coffee table and slammed a piece of tissue on top of the spider, forcing it into the popcorn ceiling (she never got the stain out of the ceiling). She applied pressure until she finally heard a pop under the tissue. But, once she let it go, the body fell onto the coffee table right in front of me, still alive. Its legs and fangs flailing wildly as it seemed to try to crawl towards me. The only thing slowing it down was the fact that its abdomen was completely flat, squished beyond recognition.

I screamed, falling back into the couch. My mum jumped off the table, scooped up the creature, and quickly threw it into the toilet, sending it down to its watery grave. My adrenaline continued to rush through my system. All I could think about was its flailing legs, and the fangs! I could see its fangs! Lashing in the air as it seemed to scream! It should have been dead! It's lower body was completely gone! There was no way it should have been alive!

DM: It's amazing how a tiny moment leaves such a huge impact. But let's focus on this one moment in a million of moments that we have growing up. What a great catalyst to launch a story or give to your character. The fear of spiders is universal but the moment is captivating, especially to a young reader. Capturing universal fears and making them personal is what takes the good writing to great writing. Capture a moment of fear that you experienced and work it into your story. Give the reader something to keep them on the edge of their seat.

What scares you? We want to know! Please come back and join Kelsey and I as we continue to talk about fear and writing. We promise to make your skin crawl with delight.


  1. I'm so excited for this segment. You two are so amazing.

    Me personally? I'm terrified of ever looking at all these pictures again.

  2. Anything. But. Spiders. :-O Or centipedes.

    What a great idea for a series! Great job, DM and Kelsey. I'm realizing lately how much fear I have about the writing process itself. It's quite a revelation.

  3. I have absolutely no problem with spiders which is funny because my husband is terrified of them.

    My fear is fire; the engulfing destruction that can start with something so little as a match. I blame this on Disney and I'll give you several examples why:


    Robin Hood (skip to 0:46):

    The Little Mermaid (skip to 1:00):

    The Jungle Book:

    Sleeping Beauty (skip to 1:00):

    Need I say more?

  4. I am with Brianne. The stories were creepy enough! The pictures - ARRRRRRRRRRRRG! and I am not even afraid of spiders. Bleeeeh!
    But you both tell a great tale, and you make a great team. Cool concept.