Halloween, the celebration of all things that go bump in the night and make our stomachs jump into our throats, is over and gone for another year.
On Monday, as we celebrated the day, I found myself thinking, “What is my greatest fear?”
This is a good question to ask ourselves now and then. Our fears change over the course of our life. My answer to this question was, “I fear I may be wasting my time writing when I could be doing something else more effective to better the world.”
As I age, I realize just how precious this time we have on earth is and how limited. I don’t want to waste a minute of it. The needs in the world are so great. I want to do my part to alleviate the pain and suffering I see. So it can be hard to justify the countless hours I spend writing, thinking about writing, editing and revising, when I see so little results for my efforts.
I can’t help but wonder now and then, whether my time might be better spent elsewhere: spending time with lonely seniors in nursing homes or hospitals, working in a foodbank, tutoring children, lobbying for change of social policies. These are hard questions, ones I wrestle with on a regular basis.
This is also a good question to ask about the characters in your books. Fears can reveal important aspects of our characters. It can let us know what they value, what motivates them, and give us a glimpse into their childhood where fears often originate.
If as an adult, your character is deathly afraid of spiders, perhaps there was an incident in childhood where a spider ran over your character’s body and he/she was unable to move. Or perhaps being chased by a dog left your character with a disabling fear of dogs. If they fear failure, is it because of a demanding parent who never admitted to mistakes and demanded perfection of them as a child? If they fear abandonment, were they abandoned as a child?
In our greatest fears lie areas for growth. Maybe I need to learn how to see value in wasting time.
What is your greatest fear?