Our deepest fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasures”

Steven Mayoff, interviewed in Authority Magazine, in 5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me When I First Became An Artist:

5. Follow your fear. On the corkboard above my desk I have two quotations from poets written on an airmail envelope. The first quote is by John Berryman that reads: “We must travel in the direction of our fear.” The second, by Rainer Maria Rilke, goes: “Our deepest fears are like dragons guarding our deepest treasures.” While these pearls of wisdom can be applied to many facets of life, for me their greatest relevance is regarding writing. Digging deep into a character can sometimes be an ugly business. While all of us strive to be the heroes of our own lives, we also have a dark side that is not always easily confronted. This is what I love about writing fiction. How it allows me to think about the human condition and the ways it manifests in various situations and relationships. My perspective is both objective, because these characters don’t really exist, but also subjective, because these characters are my creations. When they do terrible things or think terrible thoughts, I do not have the luxury of judging them. I have to let them exist on their own terms as I want to exist myself on my own terms.


Steven Mayoff's picture
Steven Mayoff on September 15, 2023 - 12:57 Permalink

Thanks for taking the time to read the article and for sharing your takeaway from it.

Bryson Guptill's picture
Bryson Guptill on September 15, 2023 - 13:09 Permalink

This is an amazing quote from Steve. Bravo to him for writing it. Bravo to you for posting it here.

Oliver's picture
Oliver on September 21, 2023 - 13:54 Permalink

Interesting! I guess it applies also to improv, at least to some degree