Fear, Golightly, Python
I’m not out in the jungle hunting Scary.
Scary pops up on its own—often falls into two categories—and I figure it out from there.
#1: People Scary
Every now and then there’s a project that I want to do and, though I feel like someone’s yanking my gut up through my throat, I go ahead. I ignore that pulling because the project gives me an opp to try to something new, whatever it is—and I jump. And then I always end up with Holly Golightly‘s mean reds:
“The mean reds are horrible. Suddenly you’re afraid and you don’t know what you’re afraid of.”
And I end up paranoid and looking over my shoulder and not sleeping and afraid of being in contact with my client because every bit of contact is a double shot of toxic.
And I don’t do my best work. And in the end, even though the client and/or his/her staff freak me out, it is my fault for eating the apple. Looked good—even though I knew it was poisonous.
So if Scary is paired with a person/s in addition to a project . . . . No thank you very much.
#2: Project Scary
This is where I introduce one of my favorite exchanges in Monty Python’s Life of Brian even though I’ve offered no lead up to why I’m sharing it (Stick with me. Will get to it.):
Brian: Excuse me. There’s been some sort of mistake.
Roman: We’ll sort that out later.
Eric Idle’s character: Oh, that’s a good one. We’ll sort that out later, after you’ve been crucified. Typical bloody Romans, eh?
Roman: Now you can shut up.
Eric Idle’s character: Or what, I’ll have to give up being crucified in the afternoons?
And then they break out into the song “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” as they are all hanging off crucifixes, with Idle’s character reminding “Nothing comes from nothing.”
It’s easier to handle the pain, hanging with Eric Idle’s Life of Brian character, than it is to speak up—easier to turn down a project because I’m scared and then deal with the pain of seeing someone else succeed. Easier to do nothing.
These days, I jump at Scary more often than I used to because I’ve learned that Scary always takes me to a different level. It makes me work harder and I end up on the better side in the end.
Another Eric Idle insert:
In the interview here, Idle talks about going on the Tonight Show with the Monty Python crew. Well, they do their thing, which usually cracks people up. With the Tonight Show audience? Crickets. Not a laugh. Nothing. Their response? They ran outside laughing. “It was the funniest thing in the world. . . Nothing’s funnier than when you don’t get the laugh,” said Idle.
Personal Scary example insert:
When Steve asked me to start writing for his site, I was scared.
Moment of truth: I have a degree in Creative Writing, yet I’m terrified to write—a drummer afraid of loud noises.
Idle can laugh about not getting a laugh, but I struggle with it. I need to hop in a cab with Holly and head to Tiffany’s.
I’ve written for others for a bit, but not under my own name—under theirs.
And then I started writing for Steve’s site. I figured I ought to be able to do the work if I was working with Steve, so I started writing.
And when I started writing, that Muse Steve talks about all the time started visiting. I used to stare at the computer, blocked. And then by starting to write, the blocks started coming down and the Muse started hanging out more often. And she reminded me that whatever it is, the more I do it, the less scary it is—the better I get at it.
But, ya know what? When I’m done writing this post, I’m still going to send it off to Steve and Shawn to make sure they’re cool with it because I still sleep with a nightlight. But—I know I’m getting better and the old Scary is laughable and the new versions will be manageable.
A 1-Day Event With Steven Pressfield
Join an exclusive gathering for writers who are in the ring.