You’re never too old for writing FEAR


It got me again.

I, who have published 352K words of Pride’s Children, am terrified. Again.

It’s been a year since the writing of NETHERWORLD ended and the publishing part began, and my body and I have been through a lot.

And I’m getting started back into the final volume, with a strong path ahead of me through plotting that’s been necessary since the very beginning.

I wrote the first scene and the new Prothalamion, thought I was on a roll.

I decided to not mess with a good thing, and to go back to the detailed process that gets me through each scene.

So I started updating the auxiliary files and spreadsheets and graphics and Dramatica files – finding all the pieces one by one in my detailed Scrivener projects.

Getting ready to write as quickly as I can (I HAVE gotten faster at following my own system), I readied all the surrounding bits for the second scene, 41.2 if you number from 1.1 in PURGATORY and 21.1 in NETHERWORLD.

And I froze.

Have gotten NOTHING more written in two full days – only partly brain-fogged days – when I was so sure I’d just plunge right back in.

It’s the same old FEAR: you think you’ve conquered it – until it comes back again and waylays you.

It takes you into a dark alley and tells you you’ll never do it again: this one, the denouement, has to be higher and trickier and more explosive than the previous two, AND you have to bring everything to a logical, complete, and unforeseen but perfect CONCLUSION, and just because you wrestled the lower level bosses to a standstill doesn’t mean you have it for the Big Boss.


I remember reading about a Broadway megastar who still throws up before every performance. 

41.1 can’t go out until I’m sure I haven’t left something important out by free-writing it.

41.2 can’t get written until I make the deep cuts in all the contributing files to get the gold – or write new gold.

It’s not going to get easier.

It’s going to get harder.

And I’m older.

And scared.


Pretending it was going to get easier is simply the mind’s way of keeping you together until you get to the starting gate.

It’s a lie, a helpful lie, but still.

I have to DO THE WORK.

I have to GO THROUGH.

There is NO AROUND.

NO ONE is going to come rescue me – there isn’t anyone who can, anyway.

It’s my baby. It was vouchsafed to me WHOLE in 2000.

ONLY I can write it.

And I don’t quit.

Just remember I’m terrified when you ask me how it’s going.


I just paid to upgrade my ‘FREE’ wordpress blog to a paid PERSONAL blog – why didn’t anyone tell me my blog posts were larded with ads for garbage?

They said ads would appear at the bottom maybe – but today I got a taste of the horror of my post INTERSPERSED with gruesome ADS.

MY APOLOGIES if you’ve been subjected to this – LET ME KNOW if it happens again.

Now we’ve really gotten to Armageddon: you have to pay NOT to have ADS.


32 thoughts on “You’re never too old for writing FEAR

  1. Jeanne

    I know you have a particular process to keep yourself going and work through illness, but it might be worth reminding yourself that other writers sometimes have to generate what Anne Lamott calls a “shitty first draft” in order to be able to get any writing done at all.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      I HAVE that ‘shitty first draft’ – it’s from maybe 10-15 years ago. I had to write it to make sure I could get from beginning to end of the story – quality be damned. No one but my writing partner at the time will ever see it (poor Sandy). I hadn’t properly learned to write yet. Purple prose, overblown sentiments, gaudy as a peacock…

      And yet I still check this ‘Old Text’ to see if I had an idea I don’t want to lose. 🙂


      1. Jeanne

        Good. Any old text can be mined for ideas, and it can sometimes distract you from the writer’s block of trying to make each sentence (each word, even) “perfect.” No one’s writing is ever going to be perfect. But you have readers (like me!) wanting to know what happens next!


        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          Thanks – more than anything I want to see how it turns out – the words, the details of the plot down to the dialogue. Knowing the end to a story is never enough – the journey is crucial.

          I have a feeling once I get going (and I’m waiting, literally, for a single USB-USB cable so I can switch easily back and forth from one computer where my plotting software and Word reside to the other where I have updated the Scrivener version for writing. It arrives today or tomorrow. Little things really help. And stretching the brain to figure out computer configurations. Finally!

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Most of the days I have it at bay – I’m used to FEAR’s tricks.

      But at the start of a new book, especially one I thought I had finished organizing (I hadn’t, not really, since 2007!), I realized I was going to have to reinvent a lot of stuff, thought I could get away without doing so, WROTE the first scene with little trouble…

      And immediately crashed hard on the second, already having outrun my supply lines!

      So I’m going to do a combination of clearing up all those missing structural pieces AS I write the first few scenes – and then allowing myself to add anything I missed, but only to the first few chapters.

      I don’t need external deadlines to cramp my style – I can do that myself with my own standards.


  2. acflory

    I am so sorry, Alicia. Apart from a couple of short story ideas that may never see the light of day, I haven’t written any fiction I’ve been happy with since December 2016. To be honest, I sometimes think that I only had XX number of stories in me and there ain’t no more. Do NOT let that fear do the same to you.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      No chance of that happening (I hope) – I have another massive volume, LIMBO, to finish – and possibly some short stories – Bianca doesn’t give up easily…

      But I’m sad that you aren’t feeling like writing right now – has the pandemic affected it? The world has just not been quite right, has it?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. acflory

        I’m glad you’ve got years worth of stories ahead of you.
        I have been writing, more off than on, because I too have a long storyline to finish [Vokhtah] but…for me, knowing roughly where the story is going is an impediment. I think I’m bored with it. And yes, the pandemic has made my kind of fiction irrelevant? Or maybe it just feels that way to me. I don’t know. 😦


        1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          We’re so similar in many ways I assumed you were a plotter! Good to know you’re not. SF IS discovery fiction, so that makes sense.

          My tiny House of the Vord (SF) was written from idea to final version in one frenzied session.

          Liked by 1 person

        2. acflory

          I’m actually a hybrid; I need to plot ‘in the middle’ or the whole thing falls apart. But I don’t enjoy it.
          Have you published House of the Vord?


        3. acflory

          A throwaway? It’s effing brilliant! Why, oh why aren’t you writing scifi? You have the background for it. At the very least you should write more of these short stories. And publish them. What a waste. 😦


        4. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          I’m pretty sure many of the concepts are NOT original with me – I read a LOT of SF in my youth.

          Glad you like it – and pieces like it are visible in Kary’s SF story in Pride’s Children – but I might have had the ideas when I was younger, and might have been able to produce something in that line IF I had stayed healthy. I can’t now. I don’t want to now – I don’t have the ideas or the inventiveness or the ability to keep up with technology or science. Even what I know is fuzzy – and years out of date.

          If I have a short story or a drabble idea, I do right it and edit instantly – that’s how the few that exist got written.

          PS Glad you liked it.


        5. acflory

          Someone famous once said that nothing is ever new. Makes sense too as none of us write in a vacuum. It’s how you do it that counts…and I really like it.
          Actually, as soon as you mentioned Kary, I remembered that I wanted to read /that/ story too. lol Maybe one day you can write a sideways sequel. 🙂


        6. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          I have thought of that – Hostage to Fortuna has a lot of plot in my head. Some of it may stick – I like the bits already written. There’s a certain style to it. I don’t know if I have enough for a novel, but something shorter? I like Akiiya.

          Thank you for your kind words.

          Liked by 1 person

        7. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          It would probably end up longer than that in MY hands. And the copyright would belong to…?

          I’d have to have a pen name the same as Kary’s? Meta, meta, meta – but might be fun.

          Maybe I could leave out the parts in the OTHER novel, so you’d have to read both to get the full story… to not be accused of plagiarism. I’ll put it on the list – I have more notes somewhere.

          Liked by 1 person

        8. acflory

          YES!!!!! That’s a great idea. I’d love to read the story within the story and I bet others would too. And a pseudonym would be fun>:D


        9. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

          It’s on the list a little higher than it had been before.

          I would love to write the script for Roland – but am FAR too much of an amateur to do a decent job with it. I did love creating the pieces that are in PURGATORY, but that’s a very long way from a full script.

          Liked by 1 person

  3. Lee McAulay

    Spouse is currently reading the biography of Terry Pratchett, and has reached the point in the book where dementia is having a serious impact on Terry’s ability to write. And yet, though Pratchett knows there’s no sunlit upland, no light at the end of the tunnel, he keeps on writing into the darkness.
    It does sound like he had a mile-wide stubborn streak of determination, though…


    1. Lee McAulay

      P.S. one of the reasons I couldn’t write much after finishing SHADOWBOX was that I thought it was the best thing I’d written, and the idea of creating something as good, never mind something better, seemed overwhelmingly daunting.


  4. Lloyd Lofthouse

    I understand. I have a white board in my home office with my daily writing goals (5 of them) written on it as a reminder. The first one says, “Don’t let any words, spoken or written, stop me from… writing the next blog post or book I’m working on to my last breath and heart beat. Don’t let anyone else or your own doubts stop you.”

    I can’t miss it. Anytime fear (doubts, et al) slips in to my head in an attempt to sabotage my writing dreams, I read number one again.


    1. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt Post author

      Fear can keep you from looking at reminders – like the three I have on my windowsill.

      I’m better at realizing 1) that I’m hesitating or something, and 2) at writing it out in the FEAR JOURNAL, and 3) figuring out how to get going again.

      You and I don’t write obvious stuff – so there’s always the fear that the latest words will cost us one of our fans. Getting new readers is hard because we have to persuade people to at least try – and there is a lot of other stuff out there they’re more comfortable with trying. We need/want them more than they need us (except they’re missing truly different and otherwise-unavailable writing and stories – traditional publishing can’t afford to take many chances).

      I add illness to the equation – it takes a LOT of energy to fight fear. But it has to be done, and keeps sneaking back in.

      I was afraid of that very problem with the (absolutely necessary) ending to the second book – but no one has said it’s a problem (of those who reviewed).

      Any time you take a chance you open yourself to consequences, some unintended.

      Thanks for commenting. And understanding.



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