Before Fear

One of the challenges with children on the Autism spectrum is how to teach them to behave like all the other human beings. So often these children’s behaviors seem out sync with the rest of the world, their voices too loud, their questions inappropriate, their attention inflexibly focused on one subject. And so we train them to use “outside voices” and “inside voices,” how to make “topic appropriate conversation,” and so on. It is useful in a way for these children, just as it is useful for us if we were travelling to a foreign land to learn its customs so that we do not inadvertently insult our hosts. But in my experience what most stands between these children and what we would call normal behavior is fear. Fear is the dissonance drowning out their intuition and social radar. Fear is what keeps them hidden in their circular stories and twitches and murmurs.

Because how can you really train someone to live? This moment is different than the next moment. Every single moment in your life is singular and without imitation. How can you possibly train yourself for all of them? Isn’t it rather that we have trained ourselves to trust that which guides us through each of these very different moments, that which tells us when it is okay to swear and when it is not, when we can stay on one subject and when we should move on? Who amongst us has not behaved awkwardly when caught within the white noise of fear?

So it is with writing. Every story, every paragraph, every sentence requires something different of the writer. You cannot train in preparation for each sentence you will ever write. Rather, you can only train yourself to trust that which knows what is required in a given moment. To enter into that trust is to enter the deepest conversation you will ever know. Life may be swirling all around you, the noise and lights may be loud and bright, but you can know it all, you can speak appropriately to it all, if you but sink within yourself and become the voice for that which existed before fear.

9781935961994-Perfect_CS.inddWrite Within Yourself: An Author's Companion. "A book to keep nearby whenever your writer's spirit needs feeding." Deb Caletti.

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