A lot of authors talk about fear. Fear of failure, fear of rejection, even fear of success.
I don’t get the last one, and to be honest, the first two aren’t a problem, either. Rejection sucks, no doubt, but it proves you’re trying. Ditto that for failure, which gives you the added bonus of never being the jerk at a writers’ conference who gets lynched in the bathroom for describing the book deal that fell effortlessly into his lap.
I can relate to fear though. And I will confess right now that I am utterly, freakishly, terrified of needles.
This is where you say, “but they don't hurt,” and I explain that the phobia isn’t about pain. I once had a cavity drilled without Novocain just to avoid the needle.
Pain is not a problem.
I’ve tried hypnosis, sessions with a shrink, and a staggering array of anti-anxiety meds. I can occasionally handle an injection, but an IV? I just gagged when I typed those letters.
So when my doctor ordered an exploratory surgery that required an IV two years ago, I explained my phobia. More accurately, I described the degree to which I was likely to FREAK THE F**K OUT if they tried to stick me while conscious.
“No problem,” he said reassuringly, and sent me home with a prescription for a drug labeled for management of severe anxiety and sedation of aggressive patients.
That sounded about right.
I was instructed to take one pill an hour before the procedure, and the second if I was still feeling anxious when we left for the hospital. The third?
“At your size, you won’t be upright after the second,” the doctor assured me. “The third is just for emergencies. We’ll decide when you get here, but that dosage could fell a horse.”
The first pill made me slightly dizzy. The second was tough to swallow because I was hyperventilating. I gulped the third in the car on the way there. By the time Pythagoras steered me into the lobby – trying hard to pretend I was a homeless person he’d found on the street – I was a sobbing, shrieking, shaking, slobbering mess.
“What happened to her?” the receptionist asked.
Pythagoras looked at me. “She’s actually doing pretty well.”
They marched me into a little room where the doctor took one look at me and determined there was no way anyone was touching me – much less trying to stick me with a needle.
That’s about when the hallucinogenic properties of the drug started to kick in.
“Look!” I slurred to Pythagoras as I crawled on the floor. “The shapes are moving. Pretty!”
“Please don’t lick the linoleum,” he urged. “Come on – get up. You don’t know who’s peed on that floor.”
“But it’s fluffy.”
“It sure is.”
Things got a little hazy after that. I remember being dragged into a room and taking a half-hearted swing at a nurse before passing out.
When I came to, Pythagoras was there. “Good news,” he said.
“Oh, they don’t know yet – but if they ever do this again, they’re just going to gas you.”
Alas, that’s not a viable solution for dealing with the daily fears of most authors, but it’s still a great source of comfort to me.
So what are your fears? Do they pertain to writing, or are they ridiculous like mine? Do share in the comments. Just know that if you use those two letters, I'll throw up a little in my mouth.