Deadly Ever After

The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

The Failure of Fear

Today’s Brew: It’s snowing, so I decided not to go to yoga. But I’m out of creamer, so now I have to leave the house.

by Kristen

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Sometimes I don’t find inspiration, inspiration finds me. Last spring, I’d finished the rewrite of Because the Night. The book you have in your hot little hands was originally two books. I’d torn them apart, and it changed the tone of the series. It was my first major revision, and even though I was much happier with the new book than what I’d started with, learning how to really put a book together exhausted my soul.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to write next. Did I want to do jump right into the sequel? Or did I want to give Callie and company a break? The answer, in Night Moves, wound up being both.

Melanie introduced herself to me in a short story. Someone just out of college, someone who thinks she’s doing all the right things. She’s got the job, she’s making good money, she’s got a boyfriend. If Melanie was your friend of Facebook, she could probably fool you into thinking she had her shit together. But like most Facebook statuses, that would be a lie. Like so many other people in America, her job became an infestation that took over everything. All she did was work and it pulled her away from the person she used to be. She knew it was happening, but she surrounded herself with people who accepted less than they wanted or deserved in life, and she begrudgingly accepted it as something that happened when someone became An Adult.

Her boyfriend knew better, and took matters into his own hands. And so the adventure known as Night Moves begins.

I can empathize with Melanie. Of course, I created her. But when I was in my early twenties, I had one of those jobs. It didn’t take over my life, but it sucked my soul. I worked in a bank. I was a teller. I may have mentioned before that numbers feel like rubber bands squeezing my brain, so working with other people’s money and numbers all day long was extremely stressful for me. But that wasn’t really the worst part of it. The people I worked with were all lovely…

You can feel the but coming, can’t you?

Most of them had worked in that local bank all of their lives. They had wonderful families and kids, and I’m sure most of them were really happy. But I noticed a pattern. Everyone was watching the clock, waiting for five o’clock, waiting for Saturday, waiting for their two weeks vacation so they could go to Aruba. They were always waiting for something.

I felt like a bull in a china shop. I needed more. In that environment, I began to think it wasn’t possible. I remember actually having the thought, “Well, I guess dreams don’t come true.”

I’ve fallen on my face a lot in life, I’ve made mistakes. But that thought haunts me like a nightmare. I was trying to convince myself to settle for something I knew was wrong for me.

Meanwhile, on my days off I was going to concerts all over the Eastern seaboard. I needed that extreme opposite  in my life to feel alive. Some days I drove straight home from wherever the show was and wait straight to work, only stopping home to shower and put on my bank teller uniform.

Fun Fact: I used to wear combat boots to work at the bank.

So why the hell didn’t I say screw this, I’m out of here? I was afraid.

I’d convinced myself that no other job was going to be better than the one I already had. I figured it was better to stick with the devil I knew. I stayed there for five years.  I had to actually work up the courage to leave that job. I didn’t do anything spectacular, I went back to school and got a part time job at Piercing Pagoda. But the world didn’t end, and I was much happier.

When I tell that story, it doesn’t even feel like I’m talking about me anymore. Sure, sometimes I’m afraid of change. But I’m way more afraid of missing out on what life has to offer. I don’t ever want to be simply waiting for things to happen, like my two weeks vacation, and not be able to enjoy the moment.

When I put Melanie in the worst case scenario of that situation, I wanted to see what she’d do. And then I kept asking What If. She takes chances, she feels alive. She has to learn who she is again.

The fear of failure can be exactly what hold us back from getting what we want.

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