Fearing our Creations

Fearing our Creations

In the book, Writing Past Dark, Bonnie Friedman examines Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein as a metaphor for what she sees as a common source of blockage for writers – the fear of our creation.  In Frankenstein, young Victor pursues his passion obsessively and alienates his family.  The knowledge he seeks has greater importance than their fears or needs.  He yearns to ‘author’ fresh life.

He accomplishes his goal but at the moment of conception, when his creation opens its eyes, Frankenstein is horrified.  He flees the reality of what he created.

An artist is driven by their internal vision and the desire to communicate that to the world outside their own minds.  It is an imperfect and difficult challenge, made all the more difficult by various censors and critiques we carry around in our heads, in addition to the ones outside it.  In addition, there is the fear that if we recreate our vision honestly, we may hurt those we love.  If we tell our story too well, if we author fresh life from old, will we expose ourselves to the anger and rejection from any who see themselves in our work.

This fear has definitely inhibited me, stopped me in my tracks when I’ve considered telling some stories.  Should I push through that resistance and disregard the feelings others might have?  Should I cloak the truth so that it’s not so easy to recognize?  Or should I go balls to the wall and accept that I may end up alone with my writing to keep me company?

Or is there a middle ground where I tear my emotional guts out, spread them on the page and find that my truth, my creation, is not the monster I fear?

4 Replies to “Fearing our Creations”

  1. I am just THIS minute reading this, from When Things Fall Apart, by Pema Chodrin: “Being preoccupied with our self image is like being deaf and blind. It’s like standing in the middle of a vast field of wildflowers with a black hood over our heads. It’s like coming upon a tree of singing birds while wearing earplugs.”

    That fear, of being vulnerable, being seen, is connected to the illusion of our own self image- and I know it well.

    1. JennyAnn, thank you for being my first commenter!

      Fear of being seen is huge for a lot of us. To really create the way I imagine in my mind, I have to be vulnerable, I have to allow a lot of uncomfortable goo to emerge and be witnessed. It’s super uncomfortable and super liberating. And, if I am understanding your point, if I can’t let go of ‘how things look to other people’ or ‘how other people will react to me after I do this thing’, I’m not fully realizing the potential of what I can create. Thank you for your comment – Cam

      1. JennyAnn.. heard the song Breathe (2 am) by Anna Nalick this afternoon and this part applies to what you said, I think:

        2 AM and I’m still awake, writing a song
        If I get it all down on paper, it’s no longer inside of me,
        Threatening the life it belongs to

        And I feel like I’m naked in front of the crowd
        ‘Cause these words are my diary, screaming out loud
        And I know that you’ll use them, however you want to

  2. I’ve done all three things (pushed through, cloaked, and gone balls-out) in different measure, depending on which story it is that I’m telling. But for me, it’s one thing to write the stories, and quite another to be willing to have them published. I’m still working on the self-censoring, clearly, but I’m aiming for a day when I won’t have to.

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