How the Scariest Moment of My Life Reminded Me I Am Safe

How the Scariest Moment of My Life Reminded Me I Am Safe

It was 2am on the second night of my recent visit to South Africa and I was wide awake with jetlag. I trundled down the stairs of my parents’ home, made myself a cup of coffee, called my husband in Australia, checked my emails and called my friend Katrina to discuss logistics for our upcoming writing retreat in Fiji.

I was lying on the couch in the living room, chatting to her, when I thought I heard noises outside. I casually went to the window to look outside, when a black gloved hand emerged from outside and moved the curtains aside.

The thunder of adrenalin. Deafening terror. Falling over a footstool. Racing upstairs, yelling, ‘Someone’s trying to get into the house!’

I ran to the room where my daughter was sleeping and barricaded my body against the door. My mother raised the alarm. The security company arrived. The intruder had fled.

Then, the aftermath. My parents upgraded their security. Now, the drama. The body memory. The tortuous loop of ‘what if’s?’
What if I hadn’t been there to alert my parents?
What if I hadn’t been awake with jetlag?
What if I hadn’t been downstairs talking to Katrina?

 

The 7 Day Writing Challenge

WINGS: Words Inspire, Nourish and Grow the Spirit

 

And now, the retelling.

It’s hard to escape that this is a story about The Scariest Moment of My Life. The cold horror of that black-gloved hand has still not left me.

But each time I tell the story, I realise I have a choice.

I can make this a story about the crime in South Africa. Or the need for better vigilance and security. Or luck (how fortunate it was that I was awake). Or coincidence (my parents have never before had an intruder try to break in and I visit once a year). Or how our fear (mine of violence) forces us to face it head-on.

Facts themselves have no inherent meaning. We make whatever meaning we want out of the stories of our lives. In that way, our consciousness determines our experience, not the other way around. As my friend Sherill says, ‘The pain is in the frame.’ Or to draw from the beautiful E.E. Cummings poem, we can insist our narratives belong in places of love and worlds of yes.

So I choose to frame this as a story about being in the right place at the right time. It’s not about being haunted and hunted, but about grace and guidance. That hand which emerged from the darkness has oddly bestowed on me the deep peace that comes with the knowledge that absolutely nothing in this life is random. It’s a blessed reminder that when I’m awake in my life, I am safe.

I hope you’re inspired to loop your dark moments into arrows of light, and to recall that love is a place from which you are never banished.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

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Writing Is Also About Erasing (On Editors)

Writing Is Also About Erasing (On Editors)

Before I became a published author, I didn’t like editors. I couldn’t bear the thought of them, with their red pens and their pursed lips, their eyes like crabs across the page, just looking to pinch at my text with their editorial pincers. I used to be terrified of having my words taken away from me as if each one was a precious child. I also had this ego-thing going on – that this was my art, my work, my creativity, and how dare some editor make decisions about something so lofty, so magical and mystical? Looking back now at my inexperienced self, I can understand this fear, and even feel compassion at my editaphobia. See, editing brings up our deepest anxieties about being good enough and having to let go.

Here are five things I’ve learned about editing, which may change how you feel about the process:

Editorial feedback is not a comment on our self-worth

Our words often make us feel vulnerable and exposed – we all feel a little naked when our writing is handed over to someone else to look at. But as writers, there comes a point where we have to get over ourselves. Writers who become successful authors have to learn to differentiate between feedback on our writing and on who we are. If a piece of writing is rejected, we are not worthless. If our writing needs work, we are still worthy of love. Over-identification with our writing is a mismanagement of the boundaries between our work and ourselves. At some point we just have to understand that though we are fabulous, lovable and wonderful people, our writing may need some work.

Editors are our allies – they are our ‘good’ readers

A good editor is your ally – she is there to help you make the text the very best it can be. An editor has an advantage of not being so close to the text that she cannot see what ‘works’ and what ‘doesn’t work.’ An editor is looking through the eyes of the reader – sometimes as writers, we lose sight of the reader, and believe that everything we’ve written is relevant and interesting. The editor will look at what we’ve written in terms of whether it serves the story. Not everything that is important to the writer is necessarily serving the story. We need the editor’s eye because it is objective.

 

The 7 Day Writing Challenge

WINGS: Words Inspire, Nourish and Grow the Spirit

Editors help the text to breathe by making spaces for the readers’ interpretation

Many of us overwrite. We use too many words and clutter the text. This is not because we are bad people. All writers lapse into word litter. Sometimes, if we are able to exit the right writing brain and enter the left, analytical brain, we are able to do this kind of editing on our own writing. But it’s much easier to have someone do it for us.

Editorial feedback helps us prepare for horrible reviews

We all get them – on Amazon and Goodreads and peoples’ blogs. Reviews that are downright nasty, ratings that are mean and comments that are hurtful. Writers need to be tough. We will never please everyone out there. We have to find our market and write for that market. We have to find our tribe of readers and as long as they enjoy what we do. We cannot worry about what the trolls are saying.

Editing helps us to learn to let go

We are naturally attached to our writing, given how deep and hard we have had to work to produce it. But we cannot get precious about our writing – it’s just writing. What gets cut can be re-used. Our brilliance will return. Beautiful sentences will re-appear. Nothing is ‘lost’ when we let something go. Creativity is an endless self-generating fountain. We need to learn to trust that.

May all your erasures make space for what is still to come.

Joanne Fedler

Joanne Fedler

Author, writing mentor, retreat leader. I’m an internationally bestselling author of nine books, inspirational speaker and writing mentor. I’ve had books published in just about every genre- fiction, non-fiction, self-help, memoir – by some of the top publishing houses in the world. My books have sold over 650 000 copies and have been translated in a range of languages. Two of my books have been #1 Amazon bestsellers, and at one point the German edition of Secret Mothers’ Business outsold Harry Potter- crazy, right?

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