Tuesday, 5 August 2014

Fears, Phobias and Things that go Boo in the Night - Savita Kalhan

I have lots of fears and phobias, some rational, some irrational. Here is a (by no means comprehensive) list of some of them: dizzying heights, sheer vertical drops; wasps, bees, hornets, well almost anything that buzzes and gets anywhere near me; enclosed spaces like tunnels and caves; dark places – even a deserted street at night, which is more frightening because it is deserted, and then, bizarrely, becomes even more frightening when you see a lone figure walking towards you; cemeteries, at night; the woods, at night, but also in the daytime if they’re deserted. Yes, there is a general night/dark theme going on here, and a fear of bumping into someone when no one else is around. People do go for walks on their own all the time. But not me.

Although, while in Rome this summer, I actually wanted to go to a dark, enclosed maze of tunnels of death, but didn’t have time. So the Catacombs will have to wait - for a research trip for the next book perhaps...

I have lots fears and phobias where those came from, and I haven’t even started on the nightmares. I’m sure everyone has irrational phobias and fears, and some rational ones too, but I think I have more than the fair share. Am I unusual? I don’t honestly know. I’ve asked family members about theirs, and I do seem to have far more than they do. They tell me it’s down to my ridiculously overactive imagination. They tell me I’m far too superstitious, and suspicious, and that I always see the worst possible scenarios and imagine the worst possible outcomes.

Life would be so much easier, and far less scary, if my imagination wasn’t so overactive.

But I guess I need it to be that way. I’ve found a way of using it in my writing. Writing about them has not made the fears and phobias lessen in any way. They’re still very much present. I just wonder what would happen if I underwent hypnosis to sort out some of them. How would it affect me? How would it affect my writing? Would it become less dark? Would I find myself drawn to writing humorous light-hearted, heart- warming fiction? I did try my hand at writing that way, but it didn’t last long. It didn’t feel right and the words didn’t flow with the same ease.

The book I’m working on at the moment is getting very dark. You’re probably not surprised to hear that if you’ve read The Long Weekend. It’s not an intentional thing. It’s just the way the book is flowing.

I would still love to be able to make teens and young adults laugh when they read my work, than cower and cry, but I fear that may never happen...


Miriam Halahmy said...

I'm a very nervous reader so even found your blog SCARY! But no worries - kids love scary ...great post as always Savita!

Susan Price said...

I honestly don't mean to be unsympathetic, Savita, but - how do you ever get out of bed?

You remind me of a friend, whose list of phobias is forever getting longer. (We think we know them all, and then discover several others.)

At the time of writing, she's:

terrified of spiders, because they 'might get on her.' (I have a strong dislike of the things myself, but nowhere near as bad.)

She's frightened of sharp things that might cut her, so all her kitchen knives are blunt (which is more dangerous than them being sharp.)

She goes into a real panic if a needle, pin or brooch with a pin on it is dropped - 'because someone might tread on it and it might break off in their foot and go septic.'

She's frightened of injections (the sharp things again.)

She's scared of anything that 'might' stick to her teeth or the roof of her mouth (I'm not sure what the rationale for this is.) But it means she won't eat bananas or nuts and some kinds of bread. - It also means that she can't stand the thought of any kind of denture and has spend loads of money and time on dental work. - I don't know how she copes with all those sharp instruments and things in her mouth, but apparently it's all preferable to dentures or bananas.

She won't go out after 6pm because she 'might' be mugged. I think it's interesting how the word 'might' keeps cropping up.

She won't have a shower, or go in the sea, because she can't stand water getting on her head or face. (She will swim in a pool, but is often at a standstill because her head is raised so far out of the water.)

She never learned to drive because it's too scary. (In the middle of her second lesson, she got out of the car and walked away.) She's a terrifying passenger, suddenly screaming in your ear, 'Traffic lights! Traffic lights!' - as if you were reading a magazine and hadn't noticed.

Those are all of her phobias that I can think of, though more and more keep coming up and being added to the list. - Oh, she can't stand being touched either, even by close friends and family, so we wish her happy birthday from the other side of the room.

Where do these fears come from, and how do they get such a hold?

Savita Kalhan said...

Thanks, Miriam. I was going to post a short story based on a recurring nightmare - and that really would have been scary!
Susan, I wonder the same myself sometimes! Although your friend tops me, I have to admit to sharing a few of her fears and phobias, but not the driving - I'd like to go round a race track one day in a super duper car!
I have no idea where these fears and phobias come from. I guess some are from childhood...

Savita Kalhan said...

A writer friend just suggested that maybe we should try and write a story together - she'll do the humour and I'll do the dark. Wonder if that would work...

David Thorpe said...

Hi Savita. You're in good company – did you read my post the day before?

Dianne Hofmeyr said...

I think writers are just incredibly good at scaring themselves. But so are children. A South African friend's son once asked me... if you don't have tsunamis in England and you don't have high-jacking at gunpoint in England, what DO you have to be scared of?