Irrational Fears and Other Ways to Pass the Time

with my car--1993
with my car--1993

I saw the spider’s shadow first. I was sitting in my car at the bank and the shadow was on the passenger seat. I stopped filling out the deposit slip and looked at the windshield. The spider was on the outside.

I had to move forward. The movement of the car made the spider skitter to the roof, out of sight. My heartbeat quickened. What were the odds that the spider would be at my window when I opened it? I reminded myself to breath and that the odds were in my favor. The spider would have to come toward my window just as I opened it. Everything was going to be fine. I considered not depositing my check.

I am being silly. I rolled down my window, grabbed the tube, and rolled the window up again. I breathed again and checked the other windows. Where was that spider?

I finished most of the transaction and had to reach out the window one last time. The golfball-sized spider came in. I stabbed at the spider with my pen and it fell. On me. There was a great deal of screaming.

I pulled the car to the side (having the presence of mind to get out of the way of the car behind me, but not the presence of mind to stop screaming. I tumbled out the car and ran several feet, leaving the car door open. I hit my hair, my sides, my arms, screaming and jumping up and down.

A woman came running across the parking lot. “Are you okay?” she asked. “What’s wrong?”

I wiped away tears. “There was a spider…”

“Oh.” She looked around. “Okay.” A stiff smile on her face she backed away.

After considering calling my dad to come get me, I found the spider on the floor mat dead.

Why does putting our work out into the world cause so much panic? What is the reason for the sick twisting the stomach? Our lives will not stop because someone reads our work. They are just words on the page. Right?

Why do you think some of us are terrified to show our work? What could the most dreadful thing that could happen? What do we think will be revealed that will crash our universe? What is wrong with us?

7 thoughts on “Irrational Fears and Other Ways to Pass the Time

  1. This is a great analogy. I think the spider on the top of the car where you can’t see it is the best part. That’s so much like someone having your manuscript! You tell yourself all the things that will keep you calm, like how no news is good news, or that you’re letting your imagination run away with you, or that you may not be the world’s best writer but you don’t completely suck so stop worrying about it. (And can I just say that I do the same thing with black widows.)

    Do you ever wonder how you manage to keep making intelligible conversation and doing the business of your day while inside you are panicking? I do.

    Here’s an interesting but irrelevant tidbit for you. Last night when I saw the title of this post in my reader, I had just written “irrational fears” in my journal, less than a minute before.

  2. Oh man, I’ve got a great story about a spider in a car. I don’t want to tell the whole thing here, but — in broad outline: The Missus, in her old Jeep; me, alongside, in my old Toyota; windows up on both cars; The Missus’s face suddenly frozen in terror; and on the inside of the Jeep’s window, a spider the size of a hand.

    Lord love Florida wildlife.

    Scarier than contemplating how the world might react to my work: contemplating a profound silence. At least if many people hate it and say so, I can argue with them. But if they say nothing at all, I couldn’t escape the implicit message: Sorry. Don’t care.

    I have to confess, I laughed at the “What is wrong with us?” question. I have no answers for that one but you’re right: when you look around at all the wee sleekit cow’rin’ timorous beasties who write for an audience or long to do so, it IS the real question, isn’t it? 🙂

  3. I think it’s the fear of failure, that someone won’t get it , or think it’s as well written as we do. So many people use the logic if I don’t put it out there, then I never have to worry about how well it’s perceived. In reality, how will you ever know if you don’t at the very least attempt to try.

    The spider is one of the creatures that reside on my totem. No, there is no set rule that you have to love them. Sometimes something that resides on your totem can exemplify fear, warning, pain. (Hugs)Indigo

  4. Hey, so I just read your comment on my blog.

    Basically, I’m running my campus’ humor publication, The Slant. It’s been a ton of fun, but between that and taking the maximum number of courses last semester… yeah, not a lot of blogging time. Plus, I’ve been told that “any minute now, we’ll have your new site up and you can blog there…” So I was kind of saving up my creative juices for that.

    But now I’m starting to get into experimenting with stand-up, so I may return to the blog. No promises, but definitely possible.

    Thanks for stopping by after so long!

  5. Sherri, I suppose that means irrational fears are never far away from any of us.

    JES, Florida wildlife is one reason I moved away.

    Indigo, sometimes I worry about success–which seems vain I guess, but you know some people are not that enthusiastic about others success.

    dash, glad to have an indication that you’re still around. Good for you for being busy. Good luck with the stand-up. I’ll stop by your blog again one day.

  6. This story cracked me up! I hope I never have to meet a golf-ball sized spider!

    As far as sending my work to agents, I’m not scared. I’m too far removed from when they are actually going to look at it to care. Sharing my work with a class or something has not been too hard either. Although, of course I’m nervous, I usually feel like I’m at the same level as the other students, so it’s not so bad. And I just try not to think too hard. Just do it.

    Getting in front of an audience…that’s a different story. I’ve done it, but only when I’ve been asked to. If I’m asked, then I feel like someone else liked my work enough to have me share it. But I could never just go to a open mic night and share by myself. That’s way too scary.

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