Saturday, February 12, 2011

The Beast Within

I have a beast that lives inside me.

It questions me. Constantly whispers that there is something very wrong.

Something else tells me that to be good at writing, you have to risk everything. Tell the truth. But that can be scary. It’s so much easier to be pretentious, to hide behind something that is not really you, because it’s less risky. There’s less on the line. If people don’t like you, your whole world will not fall apart.

The beast is my greatest weakness. I know, intellectually, that this is stupid, this fear of another person’s opinion. This fear of risk, of failure. But the fear is there, ever present, like a caged beast that shakes the bars just to make its presence known once in a while.

For some reason it helps me feel better just to write about this fear, admit it’s there, this beast, expose it to the light of day. Show everyone, and then lock it back up again. I was going to write about something else, but I couldn’t hear anything over the shaking of the bars. As C.S. Lewis said, “I do not sit down at my desk to put into verse something that is already clear in my mind. If it were clear in my mind, I should have no incentive or need to write about it. We do not write in order to be understood; we write in order to understand."

Whenever you write, you take a risk. The best writing takes the biggest risks, chances the greatest failures. The irony is you have to allow yourself to fail in order to succeed.

The closer we get to ourselves, to that inner core right down to the level of the beasts—exposing them—the more we allow ourselves to be who we are. Without looking to the world for approval of what’s inside, the more we can become who we were meant to be.

“It’s not because things are difficult that we do not dare; it is because we do not dare that they are difficult.” —Seneca


  1. Hi. I saw your comment on "An English Teacher's Travelblog" and came over. Here you are writing about this beast so eloquently. I relate to the creative barrier of fear; I suppose all artists do.
    Nicely stated. Thank you!

  2. Aww, Karyn. If I had to choose someone who appeared to fear failure, it wouldn't be you. So gifted at so many things and yet unaware of it. I think the whole nature of investing our feelings and thoughts into something creative makes us sensitive to the opinions of others. We want so much for people to understand and like us. A passion for our art and a certain toughness help us get through the fear. Great post, blogging lady.

  3. That's a fantastic image of fear that you paint for us Karyn.

    It's definitely true also. I think my first ever blog-post was drafted and re-drafted to death. And still I can't bear to read it again because I find the style so unnatural and different.

    But now I am beginning to feel quite at home with my little corner of the internet though.

  4. It's good to know you can get to a place where you feel comfortable. And it's good to know I'm not the only one to feel this fear. Thanks for your comments, guys! Already the beast has crawled back into its cage and hunkered in the corner to await another day :)