We've all heard it: "Write what you know." It seems like a lot of people interpret that as you should write about what you do, or what you've learned, as though everyone's life would make good fiction fodder. That's not what I'm talking about here; there's no chance in hell I'm writing a book about working medical claims. I don't think anyone would want to read that, and I'm not writing it even if they did.
But writing what you've done, what you've experienced, what you've been through - that, I think, is what "Write what you know" really means. And today, I'm talking about what we all know whether we want to talk about it or not: fear.
I've talked about my fear of failure before, of knowing that it's possible I'll never make it as a writer and I'll die with dozens of stories that no one ever read and dozens more I never wrote; that's not what this entry is about. In the sequel to TAW, I'll get to touch on the feeling of waking up lonely and alone, and the cold anxiety that comes with wondering if every single morning will be the same; I've dealt with that my entire life. But that's not what this entry is about either.
I'm talking about my overwhelming fear of things with way too many legs crawling on me. *shudder*
It's not that I'm afraid of insects. At a distance. If I see a spider or some other large bug in my home, I might freak out a little at first glance, but I'll usually trap it under a glass or something and set it free. (Unless it's near the bed. Then it dies as a warning to others.) But few things put me on edge more than feeling something crawl across my skin, tiny legs pricking with every step, its path wavering back and forth as though it's searching for something--
By this time, I've freaked out and either shaken it off or swatted it so hard I bruise whatever part of myself it landed on.
This reaction is precisely why, for one of my plots in progress, I'm basing the otherworldly antagonists off of insects and their ilk, all the things that crawl and skitter and stare at you with way too many eyes. I figure that if this stuff creeps me out, it'll creep out my readers as well, and there are all kinds of frightening things you can do with bugs. Bites, stings, wrapping in webbing, crawling into ears and noses and worse orifices, laying eggs inside so the young have to chew their way out, so on and so forth. Giant hives. Hurricanes made of bloodsucking bugs. Apple spiders. I could go on, but I suspect I'm losing readers with every word. ^_^
Oddly enough, I'm looking forward to fleshing out this plot, if only to see just how much I can freak myself out. Bonus points if I feel something crawling on me while working on it. How about the rest of you? Anyone else working a potent fear into their stories? And if you've done it already, how did it go?