The creative life is, at its heart, the continuous overcoming of fear. I'm afraid of so very many things:
Maybe this is the best idea I've ever had
And I'll ruin it
Or after this there will be no more ideas at all
Maybe my work isn't any good
Maybe this isn't even as good as anything I've done before
Maybe everyone will laugh at me
Or whisper about me
Maybe it's been done before, and far better
Maybe my work is confusing
Maybe it's boring
Maybe I'll get terrible reviews
And never work again
Maybe I don't have what it takes
Maybe I'll never succeed
Or I will and I'll burn out
Maybe somebody will hate it
And hate me.
I am not a special snowflake. These fears are not unique to me. To the contrary, I'm pretty sure these are the precise fears facing every writer, every filmmaker, every sculptor and photographer and painter and composer, in this century and all others.
In late 2001, a new proverb sprang into existence: "If you don't (insert action here), then the terrorists have won." It's a common joke, to this day. Haha! The terrorists win if you don't have another plate of nachos!
The heart of it, though, is a true thing. There are a lot of ways to make a choice -- convenience, money, desire. At the end of the day, fear is a pretty poor decision-maker. And yet sometimes, we allow fear to keep us from doing the work we love.
So what? So what if you try and you fail? Failing is a mark of honor; a badge of courage. The only shame comes when you stop trying to do, and do better. This year, during Heroes Week, I realized that the common thread in my heroes was fearlessness; not that they have no fear, but that they don't let their fear call the shots. They keep working anyway. It's an endless battle, and you will never win, but the only way to lose is to give up.
Every day you let fear keep you from the work, the terror has won.