Be not afraid — fear inspires professor’s memoir

When Jo Kadlecek went for a walk on the beach with her husband one day, she realized that she was walking amidst the two things she had feared most in life – the ocean and men. That is when Kadlecek decided to write about her experience, which later turned into the first chapter of her book, “Fear.”

According to Kadlecek, adjunct journalism professor, “Fear” is a thematic memoir that focuses her fear of relationships and water as she faced them at various times in her life. For Kadlecek, writing the book was not just putting words on a piece of paper. It was a realization of her life.

“I think I’ve been ‘writing’ a lot of this most of my life, in that I’ve lived through these stories,” Kadlecek said.

Kadlecek said that although this book was one of the greatest works she has ever committed herself to, it was also a very frightening experience.

“This book was both terrifying to write, and completely exhilarating because it forced me to think hard about some difficult personal issues and then find a way to tell them with the best language I could,” Kadlecek said.

According to Kadlecek, writing a memoir can be one of the most challenging ordeals for a writer because the subject is usually personal and vulnerable.

“I often felt like there were some stories I didn’t want to write,” she said. “The doubts that rise from telling your own story, wondering if it’s even worth telling, can be quite daunting.”

For Kadlecek, each day she sat down to continue writing her book was either a new and exciting adventure to explore, or another obstacle she had yet to overcome.

“It changed each day,” she said. “Some days, it was exciting, some days it was therapeutic, and some days, I was so sick of myself that I had to get out of the apartment.”

When an interested editor had first mentioned the idea of writing a memoir to Kadlecek, one of her main concerns was that she was too young to be writing a memoir.

“When he asked, I laughed at him in response thinking, I was a journalist first. I told the stories of others,” she said. However, the experiences of her own life willed her to begin writing it and after six months, her book was ready to be published.

Aside from the many questions she hopes her book will raise for individuals, Kadlecek hopes it will give fellow writers a sense of encouragement to try writing and experience different styles of writing.

“I believe the more experience writers can have in all genres, whether journalism, public relations, essays, poetry, fiction, screenplays, you name it, the stronger your writing will be,” Kadlecek said.

Although “Fear” has become a significant piece of writing in Kadlecek’s life, it was not the first book she has written and is certainly not her last. “Fear is about the eighth or ninth book I’ve written, but it’s my first memoir,” she said. “I’ve written a lot of creative non-fiction, including acting as a ghostwriter.”

Currently, Kadlecek is in the process of writing a novel that is due out next year. Kadlecek feels that writing fiction is a lot more fun and less painful than a memoir.

“It’s like taking a trip with some very quirky characters and having no idea where they’re going to take you,” Kadlecek said. “You watch and listen to them and in the process are quite entertained.”

While Kadlecek’s book teaches others about their individual lives as well as her own, it also serves as a tool to exhibit the meaning of writing and so, Kadlecek leaves her readers with this bit of advice.

“Writing is not just about developing the craft. It’s about learning to live well and responsibly with what we’ve been given because then our lives – our thinking, our questions – will spill over into our writing and give our readers something to take with them,” Kadlecek said.

“Fear” can be found in the required reading section of the bookstore.