Until last year, I didn't know I had a fear of enclosed spaces. During an MRI, I had a bit of a freak out and since then I've been very aware of the space around me. My heart pounds a little harder in elevators and in shoulder-to-shoulder crowds. I honestly don't know if this is a fear I've always had or if that little MRI incident caused it. (The technician left her post, leaving me totally alone. Apparently that's against the rules and she may have gotten fired over it.)
Last weekend I took a weekend vacation with my family in Wisconsin. My hubby had seen a news report on Cave of the Mounds and thought it make be a fun day trip. I agreed, never thinking about the fact that I'd be in an enclosed space - until we stood in front of the doors to enter the cave.
Sturdy grey metal doors, with danger and do-not-open signs, stared at me, daring me to step inside. That familiar heart pounding started and I knew I wouldn't be able to go in the caves with my family. The cave tour was an hour long. How could I survive that time? What would happen if I freaked out? I couldn't just step out of a room. No, I'd be trapped behind doors that once closed, couldn't be opened again. I said to my husband, "I can't do this."
He's so good to me. He took my hand in his and squeezed it. "Hold my hand if you're afraid, okay?" He didn't tell me I was silly or even, for a moment, suggest I stay in the gift shop. He trusted that I could enter the cave and maybe even enjoy myself.
I grasped my five-year-old son's tiny hand and stepped through those doors. For the first ten minutes, we watched a film on how the cave was discovered. I glanced at those double doors and wished I could run through them. I didn't. I looked at all the children in the room and thought How will it affect them if I bolt right now?
I didn't. I entered the cave and wow, am I glad I did. It was gorgeous. I laughed and felt like a kid again. When we entered a portion of the cave filled with stalactites, I said to my hubby, "Wow, this is just like I imagined it in Oubliette." (There's a portion that takes place in a cave - I imagined the whole scene. Now I could write it based off experience.)
You're probably wondering how this relates to my books. Sharing my novels with readers is just as scary. After Anathema was released I wanted to hide until everyone forgot about it. Even though writing has always been one of greatest passions, publishing for the world to see has been one of my greatest fears.
Thank you to everyone who has walked this path with me, or with any other nervous writer (and I'd bet that's about 99% of all writers out there). It's a journey of fear and love, but as I learned over the weekend, it only takes a little courage to step through those double-doors, even if I didn't know exactly what was on the other side.