Academic Writing

Creative Nonfiction—Fear

So, it’s been a while since my last post, lots of reading, a few assignments under the bridge, the semester is wheezing its dying breaths through gritted teeth, and muttering, “Just get the bloody assignments written!

So this post was interesting, scary to write in many ways because it revisited a couple of moments for me that really stay in my memories, fresh and clear—you’ll see why—but as ever, when I sat down and started writing, the words flowed nicely.

I really am enjoying this course.

From Perl & Schwartz (2006):

1. Pick an abstract word that is important to you-Justice, Desire, Dating, Work, Faith-and copy out a dictionary definition, adding a few more attributes that you think most people would agree on.
2. Skip a line and write a highly personalized definition of the word (quarter to half a page). Tip: Ground your definition in something concrete. (p. 17)

So here go’s (hope you like it)…


From Merriam-Webster’s 11th Collegiate Dictionary (Electronic Version)

Function: noun

An unpleasant often strong emotion caused by anticipation or awareness of danger; an instance of this emotion, a state marked by this emotion

Anxious concern; reason for alarm; agitation in the presence or anticipation of danger

orcaFear was taking the blood sample from Nanuk the killer whale, when she pushed me into the side of the dolphin pool and slowly—and very deliberately—lowered both of us beneath the surface of the water.

I could see the others by the side of the pool; they knew something was wrong but couldn’t pull me up. She was immovable. A mountain of black and white. Then she turned, oh fucking shit she’s so fast. And the sound of the water in my ears, or was that my noiseless screaming in my own head? And I was afraid of those teeth. She was so fucking big.

I think I pissed myself. I never told anybody that before. But she was too big to reach me without moving and as she did, Peter David the vet’, the TV vet’ that everyone laughed at, pulled me out, and I never laughed at him again.

me_land_rover Fear was cracking my head against the roof of the lion’s shelter in the main reserve, as I tried to round up the last of the lions and herd them into their night dens before heading home.

It was raining heavily, the safari park was late closing, and Simba, the big heavy-maned male, stood in the shelter and knew I couldn’t get to him with the jeep. So I left the safety of my warm dry vehicle, and stomped angrily across the mud to chase him out of his refuge. I left my gun in the car too.

I leapt into the shelter, shouting obscenities at him and waving a stick I’d collected along the way. Stupid. Stupid. Stupid. I had forgotten how low the ceiling of the shelter was; it was made for lions after all. I hit my head as I leapt in, and the last thing I saw—before the darkness—was Simba’s paws as the floor rushed toward me.

lionAnd I remember thinking, in an oddly detached kind of way, “So this is how it happens. What a stupid way to die.” When I came to my senses Simba had gone, and I sat in the freezing rain, shaking as the adrenaline washed out of my system.

Fear is the nightmare I wake from, heart pounding, shouting into my pillow as the nameless terror takes away my daughter, my son or my wife. Fear is being helpless in the face of a threat to those I love. Fear is helplessness and impotence in the face of what you can’t change.

2 thoughts on “Creative Nonfiction—Fear

  1. Pingback: Scholarly Writing… So Where Am I So Far? | Talk Curriculum

  2. Pingback: Definition In Two Parts: Fear – Writing

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