I’ve been asked a few times recently about Fear while I was writing Lost Flowers. Did I feel it? Was I afraid to write a novel?
Ummm, YES. Writing is what I’ve wanted to do with my life since I was 2 years old and understood what an author was; in 2014, when I was a few months shy of turning 34 and started handwriting the novel, Fear was a buffet in my life and I felt unable to stop more and more piling on my plate.
How did I write then, when I was sick and stuffed with Fear?
Part of the answer is that I drew on past experience and process: I instinctively understood that I was THE ONLY ONE who could defend the remaining space in me I knew was not sick with Fear. I chose to believe in that space. Quietly, but vehemently. I consumed books about writing + fear, shame, anxiety, panic, trauma and the emotional sickness they cause. I learned that Fear doesn’t discriminate; I wasn’t alone. (AREN’T BOOKS AMAZING?!) I set my intentions to nurture my imagination, which had been trampled by my inner critic who was ADEPT at keeping it, and me, small. I acknowledged that I'd reached the point where staying stunted by Fear was more unbearable than taking a leap of blind faith and fucking going for it. I didn’t want to live to my death wondering who I might have been if I’d treated Fear as the vapour it is and found the courage to just TRY.
A wondrous thing: no matter how long it’s been since we’ve engaged in creativity, our imaginations wait for us, like a loyal dog with her lead, for the moment when we’ll turn and see them, really see them, and whisper, wanna go for a W-A-L-K? It’s not about an Olympic effort. It’s about getting out there; feeling the air on our skin, the blood in our veins, the freedom to roam and explore, giving ourselves a fucking chance, to wonder and dream and roam in our imaginations, the incredible gift we’re all born with.
I know how vile an ogre Fear is. If I could side-step it, so can you, wildflowers. Here's to courage, first one step. Then another. Step. By step. By step. Ad infinitum.
HOLLY RINGLAND grew up barefoot and wild in her mother's tropical garden on the east coast of Australia. Her interest in cultures and stories was sparked by a two-year journey her family took in North America when she was nine years old, living in a camper van and travelling from one national park to another. In her twenties, Holly worked for four years in a remote Indigenous community in the central Australian desert. Moving to England in 2009, Holly obtained her MA in Creative Writing from the University of Manchester. Her essays and short fiction have been published in various anthologies and literary journals. She now lives between the UK and Australia. To any question ever asked of Holly about growing up, writing has always been the answer.