Moby Dick and the Fear of Writing

imagesSo, I recently watched “In the Heart of the Sea”. This movie didn’t hit it as big as it deserved, so you might not have even heard of it. If you don’t know, “In the Heart of the Sea” is based on the true story that inspired Moby Dick. It starts out with the author, Herman Melville, interviewing one of the survivors for his book research. Then it dives into the story of a man, Chase, who left his wife to go whale hunting, because whales were a big source of oil. But whales were hard to find, and Chase and his crew were at sea for over two years. It was when they came across a pod of whales (off the coast of Ecuador—yay!) that they came face to face with THE whale, Moby Dick, and the story pretty much went downhill from there.

The movie was what I expected- good effects, good storyline, entertaining, but not something I would watch again, and probably not something I would have enjoyed as much at home, what, with two kids running around. Which is why I insisted on watching it in theaters. Also, I’m OBSESSED with nautical themes, so of course, OF COURSE I loved the whole life on a ship, sailing at sea battling whales storyline.

But something else in the movie struck me. The writer, while interviewing the old man, said something that really resonated with me as a writer. When asked by the man why he was so intent on writing THIS story, Melville said, “I’m afraid that if I don’t write it, I may never write again. But I’m also afraid that if I do write it, it won’t be good enough.”

I think all of us creatives can relate with this. We all have that burning passion. We all have that story in our heads, that painting dying to be put on canvas, sketches to be sketched and songs to be sung.

But we also have that fear.

That fear that if we don’t write this story, we might never write again. And we’re also terrified that if we do write it, it’ll be awful, which again, could result in us never writing again.

Quite the conundrum, yes?

But that’s what risks are all about. If you never write that story, it’ll never be written. It’ll haunt you forever. (Okay, maybe not FOREVER.) But seriously, whether you write that book or that song, or paint/sketch that picture, or whatever creative idea is burning a hole in your brain, and whether you do it for yourself or for the world, DO IT.

Don’t let fear hold you back.

Because look at what happened to Moby Dick. Melville took the risk. He wrote the story. And it was a bestseller.

Now I’m not saying that if you write the story, you’ll be a bestseller. But just the reward of finishing that story on your heart is reward enough. Yes, I’m fully aware that was cliche. But it’s true. Take it from someone who wrote several stories with none of them published.

I’ll leave you with a quote from Melville himself, just a little something to inspire your creativity.

“It is better to fail in originality than to succeed in imitation.” -Herman Melville

5 thoughts on “Moby Dick and the Fear of Writing

  1. What a great quote. Agh, I can totally relate. My big trilogy is like a blockade and I don’t think I can ever really focus on another novel until I get it out of the way – but what if it doesn’t live up to my expectations?? Good thoughts, thank you. 🙂

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    1. I know exactly how you feel! I had to finish writing my entire first trilogy before working on something else, and even after I finished my other series, I had to come back to it. Of course, it didn’t sound as good as it did when I first wrote it, but that’s what revisions are for, right? 😉

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      1. I’ve been revising this beast for 10 years…I’m 5.3 drafts in on Book 1. I’m getting to the point where I defiantly ignore the voices that say I should have ditched it long ago. It’s important to me and I feel called to it, and that’s all that matters!

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  2. Hmm. Thanks for writing this. Yeah, you’re right, Melville was right: if I don’t do this, I’ll regret it forever! Gotta follow my heart. Thanks for the encouragement!

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