Lizard brain and the writing life

Someone who reads this blog will probably recognize where I took this picture of a lizard.

It was one of many lizard pictures I showed during my lecture because I talked about lizard brain and the writing life.  The amygdala–the deep and ancient part of our brains–hobbles our logic and reasoning circuits.  Neurobiologist Michael Fanselow of the University of California says that makes fear “far, far more powerful than reason.”  A frightening stimulus can trigger emotions and fears without our even realizing it.

No wonder VCMFA, which forces us to let go of what we thought we knew and thought we were good at–forces us to dangle from the cliff as we learn new craft and as we muddle our way through a story without knowing where we’re going–is terrifying.

As the authors of Art and Fear point out, “You make good work by (among other things) making lots of work that isn’t very good.”

At VCMFA, we sit bravely around tables and stand at podiums and share some of that not very good work–and thus give ourselves the chance to create something wonderful.

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