On January 23, I wrote “Facing Fear (Part One).” Today is “Facing fear with a comrade.” As you all know from the January 23rd post, I have a fear of heights, but still manage (barely) to do activities that require heights.
Last month my husband and I went on an adventure that included (in my view) outrageous heights plus speed. We went on a two and a half hour zip line tour in Hilton Head South Carolina. I so wanted to enjoy this experience with my husband, who is a thrill seeker (opposites do attract.) Although I kind of had the delusion that the zip line course would not be that far off the ground. Yeah right, it is like thinking that I could have an outdoor picnic without bugs.
Back to the zipline. Was I afraid? Heck yes, I was terrified. While our two leaders Tom and Lisa were strapping on our gear and helmet, I made sure they knew my fear of heights. They assured me that they had successfully helped many before me work through their fear. I assume that meant no one fell too.
In our group of 10 – only one other person had Acrophobia- Frank a 77 year old retired marine (almost three decade older than I.) Somehow having a fellow “scaredy cat” (as Frank called he and I) helped me feel safe and not alone in my phobia.
Although, on the first launch, as I sailed over the ground hanging on for dear life, I made up my mind that I could not go any higher and would immediately stop and climb back down to terra firma. But then I saw Frank fly through the first launch. And I thought, okay maybe I can do just one more.
The zip line course started somewhat low to the ground (about 15 feet) but the as the course progressed every platform was higher. As we hooked in and zipped to the next platform, we would climb stairs on the platform to get to the deck of our next “launch spot.” At one point, we climbed a three story tower. At times, we walked on a swaying suspension bridge that felt like walking on a tightrope (although I have never done that and probably never will.) At the highest launch point (I do not exaggerate) we stood atop a platform and looked down at tree tops. Yes. Down. At. Tree. Tops. I swoon when I remember that.
Each launch made my stomach flip, heart race and head spin. My knees shook and my legs felt weak. I questioned my sanity. I wanted to surrender to my fear- it would have been so much easier to quit.
But there was brave Frank urging me on.
I strengthened my resolve to go on as I zipped to each platform high in the trees. Don’t get me wrong, I was never ever comfortable. Spending most of the course purposefully not looking down. And when I could I’d cling to trees- this prompted Tom the leader to call me an environmentalist (because of my love to literally hug trees.)
With the encouragement of the group, specifically my partner in fear Frank, I took it one launch at a time eventually making it through the entire course (including the final 900 foot zip line race to the ground.)
Afterward, Frank said because of me he completed the course. He said he kept saying “If Lois can do it so can I.” We were each other’s support, strength and motivation in a terrifying (at least to us) situation.
So what is the gist of this post? My previous post on facing fear asked if you had ever pushed yourself in a situation you feared and to translate that same visceral feeling to your character as they face a challenge.
Today I want you to think about a struggle (self imposed like my zipline or otherwise) in your life. Whether a fear, a task, a situation, an event etc. Was there someone that supported or motivated you to succeed and help you get through the challenge? Now look at your story. Remember how you felt having someone there as you overcame an obstacle. Could your character have a comrade as well, and what would it mean to your character to have this buddy with them as they overcome odds? Would it help deepen your story, and have your readers feel more connected to your character?
The Best of Writing Wishes — Lois Lavrisa
Lois Lavrisa writes Mystery with a Twist. Her first mystery, Amazon Top 100 Bestselling and Amazon Hot New Release, LIQUID LIES, is set in an affluent lake town in Wisconsin, and asks the question “Would you tell the truth, even if it meant losing everything?”