Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Can Somebody Remove My Amygdala Please?

Currently re-reading - Storm Front by Jim Butcher

Within the last week, the subject of fear has come up on my life.  A lot.

During my brainstorming lunch with Classy Christie Craig last Wednesday, I admitted that part of my problem with my current wip was my own fear.  For some reason, I've invested too much of myself in this project, and I'm scared it won't be perfect, won't meet the picture I envision in my mind, won't be accepted by the people I present it to.

Over the weekend, I read an article on the Forbes website about a woman whose amygdala was destroyed by disease.  Since the amygdala is the part of the brain that triggers fear, she has no experience with fright.  Unfortunately, as a result, she gets herself into situations most of us would avoid.  Dangerous situations.  Like guns and knives dangerous.  But scientists hope that by learning more about this woman, they will develop techniques and drugs to help people whose amygdalas are in overdrive, people that have anxiety disorders and PTSD.

Then today, when I picked up the latest copy of Witches & Pagans, publisher Anne Newkirk Niven's editorial concerning subtle effects of cultural fear hit me in the gut.  As Ms. Niven wrote, the "battle for Pagan civil rights begins at home."

We writers fear rejection.  Like the folks with PTSD, our amygdala goes into overdrive over a perceived threat to, not our physical well-being, but to the well-being of our all-too-fragile egos.  And to paraphrase Ms. Niven, the battle for validation of our work begins at home.  We must see ourselves as worthy of publication in order for it to happen.

As my mentor Colleen Thompson has repeatedly said, every writer needs a kernel of arrogance to make it in the publishing business.  And it's that kernel of arrogance that will cut the engines of our amygdalas back down to idle and allow us to write and submit our work.

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