To blow the horn for the upcoming charge of my (now available for pre-order!) third novel, Driving in Neutral—a love story about claustrophobia—I am running the 75 Days of Phobia series. Olivia, the lead in Driving in Neutral doesn’t think there’s much to be afraid of in life, but I know what scares the bejesus outta me.
My guest today, author Imelda Evans, strikes me as the FEARLESS Olivia type.
Hello, my name is Imelda and I’m not afraid of anything.
Well, okay, not exactly. But when Sandra first suggested this post to me, that’s what I thought. I thought, oh dear, I’m not sure I’m the best person to write about phobias, because I don’t have any. Not proper ones.
Of course, there are things I am afraid of. And they’re very specific. For instance, I’m not scared of heights, but I am scared of falling. Tall buildings, hot-air balloons, balconies, even cliffs if they’re nice and solid, are all fine. Rope ladders, or bridges that wave in the breeze? Not so much. But I consider that more common sense than a phobia.
Likewise, I’m not crazy about enclosed spaces, but my issue is not so much the enclosed space itself, as not being able to get out. So, a tight, dark cupboard, with a freely opening door? Fine. A kid’s exhibit of a gold mine, made of theatre flats, but with really low doorways, which make me wonder whether I can stoop through them? Slightly hyperventilate-y. Still, controllable, with an effort of will (and the reflection that, if the worst came to the worst, I could just knock the whole thing down), so not really a phobia.
I’m probably closest to a phobia on the subject of being able to breathe easily. I recently visited the Great Barrier Reef and had no trouble holding my breath for surprisingly long periods under water so I could look at the pretty fishies. But ask me to put a snorkel in my mouth, and feel as though my breathing was being impeded by something other than me? I don’t think I actually threw the snorkel back at the nice crew member, but I certainly lost some hairs in ripping it off my head.
But still, not a fully-fledged phobia. Half-feathered, at most.
So should I get myself a cape and write myself a comic series about Imelda E, Fearless Gal?
Not yet. Because there is something I am afraid of. So afraid of, that if I were a book character, my writer would be right now working out how to make me face, it, day after day, until I conquered it or died trying. Oh wait. Hang on. That’s already happening. It’s called my life. So what is it, I hear you ask? What is this dread secret? What makes me so afraid that even in my mind, it’s called ‘The Fear,’ with capital letters?
Not being good enough.
The Fear can strike over anything I care enough about: being a wife, a mother, a friend, a citizen, a good person. But most of all – or most often, anyway – I fear not being a good enough writer.
I fear that my funny is not funny enough, my serious not real enough, my plots not twisty enough, and that my books will never move, or entertain anyone – at least not enough.
Some days, I can laugh at The Fear. Others I can look it in the eye and insist it back off long enough to let me work. Some days I grit my teeth and work and at the end of the day, The Fear mocks me and says that I have wasted my time.
And some days, it takes me in its grip and won’t let me go. Those are the days the smoothly opening doors become bolted from the outside and I think I will never get out. These are the days when I sedulously avoid drinking. (Is there a name for fear of becoming a writerly cliché? I’m sure Dr Sandra would know.)
So, I guess I do have a phobia. But I don’t have a name for it. I think it’s called being a writer.
This is not what I intended to write in this post. I intended to be much funnier. But young Sandra (Young Sandra? Bwahahahaha! You slay me, Imelda.) did ask me to share what I was afraid of and it’s too late for her to regret it now.
Imelda Evans is an Australian writer who likes books, baths and baking, coffee, cocktails and craft, family, friends and food… and a good lie in the hammock when the alliteration fails her!
She writes contemporary novels about women’s lives – the dramas, the challenges, the joys and the occasional loaded gun – and how they get through them with a sense of humour and a little help from their friends. Find out more about Imelda. imeldaevans.wordpress.com/my-books/
Her latest, Playing By The Rules is set for release on 15 September!