# of pages written: 14 (yay!)
# of days left to write 1st draft: 129
The other day my friend, Stefan, and I were walking along the Wellfleet beach, talking about our greatest fears. He said his was getting shot or stabbed. (He’s a bouncer, so I suppose it’s a legitimate concern.) I said I’d always been wary of large bodies of water, like the ocean, and I don’t like swimming out very far in lakes or ponds, either. “So maybe one of my biggest fears is drowning,” I told him. Although, I’m not sure it’s the biggest. And, to be honest, it must not be that strong of a fear or else I wouldn’t have been on Nate’s boat a few weeks ago, not wearing a life jacket, while whales surfaced ten feet away.
I did not tell Stefan what I used to say when people ask about my greatest fear. For years I told people that I was most afraid of ghosts. In fact, in New Orleans, when I moved into an apartment by myself, the women at my work asked me wasn’t I afraid to live alone, and didn’t I worry about rapists and burglars. “Oh no,” I told them. “I’m much more afraid of ghosts.”
Here’s the thing. In the light of day, I’m not afraid of ghosts. I’ve never seen one. Most people have never seen one. Statistically speaking, the odds of me ever seeing one are low. And there’s no legitimate scientific evidence that ghosts exist. Really, I don’t believe that they exist. So for years I’ve been afraid of something that I don’t actually believe exists. How is that possible?
Here’s what happens. I go about my daily life, not being afraid of ghosts. But then, sometimes, in the dark, when I’ve just seen a scary movie, and I’m all alone, and there’s a weird noise…. I get really afraid of ghosts. That’s when all logic goes out the window, and I think, well, yeah, probably ghosts don’t exist. But we don’t know everything. Maybe they do after all, and now I’m afraid of seeing one.
The more I dissect this fear, however, the crazier it seems. Because what is it that I’m afraid of exactly? What do I think the ghost is going to do to me? Scare me? Yep, that’s pretty much it. I don’t think a ghost can actually hurt me, but I’m afraid of being scared by it. So I’m afraid of being scared? Isn’t that sort of like fearing fear itself?
Maybe I’m afraid because if I know if I saw a ghost, it would change everything I thought I knew about the world, and that would be terrifying.
There are other things I’m afraid of, too. I’ve voiced a lot of my fears about writing on this blog, but so many of them, when I really break them down, start to see irrational, too. OK, what if I don’t write a novel and people think I wasted a year of my life? That’s not the end of the world, is it? What am I really afraid of? Maybe I’m afraid of my decision to focus on writing because if it doesn’t work out, it will change what I thought I knew about myself, and that would be terrifying.
But, you know, I think I’m starting to come to terms with some of the fears I had about writing when I first got to Cape Cod. And, I think I’m finally getting over my fear of ghosts. Oh gosh, now I that I’m typing these words, I’m suddenly starting to get a little bit afraid – like maybe there’s one standing right over my shoulder, reading this blog entry and laughing about how he’s going to spook me later on tonight. Oh, the feeling just went away. OK. I’m fine now. Let me just go turn on another light…