Fear of flying – writer style

Today’s guest post comes from Laura Foster-Bobroff, a talented writer and generous soul who has – happily! – been visiting Live to Write – Write to Live for a while. She’s become a personal friend of mine, and we just discovered that we share a passion for “flying” – trapeze style. We had a conversation one day about the similarities between writing and flying and I suggested she write a post for the blog. I’m so pleased that she did and hope that you enjoy it. Please make her feel welcome. 

I decided to become a writer two months before my fiftieth birthday.

After forty years of “informal” practice, it was high time I committed to making my dream come true. At first, my husband thought I was a little crazy. We were closing our remodeling business and, like many Americans, struggling financially with a mortgage under water and not enough income to sustain it.  I realized waiting for the perfect time to start writing was an excuse.  Do it, I told myself, it’s now or never.

Making the decision to be a writer was the equivalent of performing on a flying trapeze. A few years ago, my daughters begged me to buy lessons for them, and promptly backed out after standing on a platform thirty feet above ground. Substitute daredevil, up the ladder I climbed, rung by rung, determined to fly with gusto. “I’m not afraid,” I told my girls, trying to set an example. “Being off the ground on a tiny platform doesn’t scare me!” Halfway up, I looked down, hesitated, and then said to myself, “You can do this. You’re tough!”

I may be tough, but once I stepped onto the platform my breathing stopped and my heart started to beat abnormally fast. Confidence wavering, I began talking myself off the platform, “This is an impulsive whim – why are you doing this? You’re too old for this kind of risk. You’re not a professional and don’t have the skills. ‘’You could fall and get hurt.” (Sound familiar?)

On the edge, faced with failure, time stands still.  Fear and tension build. 

I so badly wanted to turn around and go down the ladder! Then I heard a click as I was tethered to the safety line and it occurred to me I had support: someone who had been where I was – felt fear and doubt – and managed to get through it, someone who learned to fly and was willing to help so I could share the experience.

Climbing the ladder, creating a platform we can step onto poses the greatest challenge for some writers; for others, leaving the platform behind to fly solo is daunting.  We can find support by reading blogs, inspirational stories, or sharing work with other writers or editors. By connecting with people who offer encouragement and reassurance we have a safety line. Most writers and editors are generous. They give tips on flying; instruct us on what works best. We only have to grab the bar and commit to making the jump no matter how scared we are. Above all, we need to remember there is a net to catch us if we fall. (And, we WILL fall!)

Someday I hope to be a writer as entertaining as a great trapeze artist gracefully performing daring tricks to the amazement of the world. For now, I’m holding onto the bar for dear life. Yet, despite my awkwardness, I feel exhilarated by the thrill of learning to fly. Heck, I’m even starting to accept falling because each day I stand hovering on the edge of my platform – unsure and exposed but jumping anyway – it reminds me I’m living the life of a writer.

Where do you find resources to motivate you to climb onto the platform?

What inspires you grab ahold of the bar and FLY?

Who reminds you that you have a safety net?

Laura Foster-Bobroff has been an assistant to a criminal defense attorney, a part-time editor, a special education advocate, and the proud owner of a green remodeling business.   She has two black belts, a pre-med science degree, and three children, including a challenged child. At age fifty, she made the momentous decision to do what she always wanted to do – write!  She now produces fiction and non-fiction work and rests by dabbling in the art of fused and frit glass and other artistic mediums. She thinks getting older is fantastic (even if she doesn’t have as much energy as she used to).

22 thoughts on “Fear of flying – writer style

    • It was an opportunity to talk about the value of professional support and encouragement when we feel challenged – something I’ve found through the countless posts through LTWWTL that have inspired, instructed and made me smile!

  1. I found that really inspiring, Laura. Sometimes we need to confront this real, physical fear to realise how strong we are and how we can overcome our other, more mental fears.

    • Absolutely, MarinaSofia! The worst are the mental fears we create within ourselves. As writers, failures (aka falling into the net of rejection, writer’s block, etc.) are part of the process of learning to confront fear so we can climb higher each time, become more confident writers. 🙂

  2. Great post, Laura. I just happened to come across a Runner’s World quote that says it all.

    “No matter our age or condition, there are still untapped possibilities within us and new beauty waiting to be born.”
    Dale Turner

    ~ Dianne

  3. Great post and very inspirational;to me! I am in a similar situation since I want to be a writer full-time and yes I too am just a couple months from my 50th birthday. My main inhibition comes from the fact that I am the only income producer with a family of 6 to provide for. I take solace in the fact that if I do what I need to do, I can be what I want to be.


    • Money can provide us with creature comforts, but cannot fulfill our need to be creatively expressive. Writers are “born” at every age! Do what you need to do and find your writerly moments wheneveryou can! We’ve gotta eat, pay bills like everybody else! I write non-fiction as well as fiction, and work a part-time day job. It was a distinctly conscious choice that income (or the lack thereof) would not distract me from practicing my art. Taking that approach allowed me to re-focus and concentrate my energies where I wanted them to go and worry less about superficial matters. Sure, I have less luxuries these days, but more satisfaction.

      I like what you have to say: “…if I do what I need to do, I can be what I want to be.” 🙂

  4. Great post! I’m approaching my fifty-eighth birthday. I see people my age retiring and trying to find ways to entertain themselves. I am grateful for the gift of writing. As Pat Bean said, I have a lifetime of experience to draw from. And writing about it all gives me perspective on the story of my life. Somehow, at this age, fears have diminished. I really do feel free to soar!

    • Yes, yes! A life of experience and wonderful stories to share. Older writers do seem more fearless and less insecure than younger writers. Perhaps it is the years of accumulating wisdom from their experiences. Perhaps it’s the depth of spirit, the mindfulness that seems to come only in the later years as we become aware that time is no longer endless. It shines through! Who says retirement has to be boring! Soar away sharlene!

  5. Having the experience of releasing my body from perfectly functioning airplanes at various altitudes above sea level, I can relate. It’s one thing to fly, it’s another experience altogether when popping the chute and landing. I’ve just begun to think about beginning to put words to print. Right now, I feel I’m jumping without a parachute.

  6. Wow! The photograph alone had me nauseous.

    What gives me the push to take the risk? You used the exact words; “It’s now or never.”

    Thanks for sharing this excellent post!

  7. A beautiful article and it speaks right into my life. I want to write and so I started a blog but some of my friends felt my efforts at writing creatively were not interesting.
    I therefore decided to have a second blog which aided by the weekly and daily challenges of wordpress encourage me to write on a variety of topics. Your words have given me encouragement even though only my fingertips are on the bar.

    • Writing is a very long process indeed and not something for those without patience to practice baby step by baby step. I haven’t delved into blogging yet, but I am setting myself up to start one by creating a number of posts in advance and trying to get myself technically proficient in WordPress. Good luck with your blog and remember, it takes times to build an audience. You’ll get there!

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