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Erica Jong on Facing Your Fears

Women Who Rock Logo“I have not ceased being fearful, but I have ceased to let fear control me. I have accepted fear as a part of life, specifically the fear of change, the fear of the unknown, and I have gone ahead despite the pounding in the heart that says: turn back, turn back, you’ll die if you venture too far. –Erica Jong

I’m working on Episode 6 of No Songs for Men, and it is all about Roxanne coming to terms with her fear of performing in public and her self-doubt about her musical talents.  I was looking for a good quote about fear and found this ditty from Erica Jong and just had to share it. Erica is not a stranger to MariaMedia, her first quote appeared on May 14.

Fear is such a big part of our lives. It’s easy to say “I’m not going to be afraid,” but somehow all those nagging doubts just creep back into our cerebellum. I love the fact that Erica is hip to the fact that those fears are going to be there, but the key is not to let them control you. Keep getting in the face of fear, smack it in the face, get that adrenaline pumping, and do something that really scares you today!

Woman Who Rocks: Erica Jong

Occupation: Novelist, poet, and essayist

Why She Rocks: Erica has used her incredible writing skills to bring about a feminist consciousness in women around the world.

Nickname: I couldn’t really find a nickname for Erica, but she did come up with a great term: the zipless fuck, which basically means having sex without any attachments. A sexual encounter free of all remorse and guilt–the perfect one-night stand.

Life Span: March 26, 1942 –

Major Accomplishments and Honors:

  • Erica has published eight novels, six volumes of poetry, six nonfiction books, and a ton of articles that have appeared in publications like the New York Times, Elle, Vogue, and the New York Times Book Review.
  • Her first novel, Fear of Flying was an international best seller, with 18 million copies sold worldwide.
  • Some of her honors include the United Nations Award for Excellence in Literature; Poetry magazine’s Bess Hokin Prize; from France, the Deauville Award for Literary Excellence; and from Italy she received the Sigmund Freud Award for Literature.
  • Erica has lectured, taught, and read her work around the world.
  • In 2007 Columbia University in New York acquired her literary archive.

Fun Facts:

  • This is a direct quote from Erica: “Because my first successful book was thought to be about sex, sex, sex, I got stuck being the happy ho of literature, and that image has been hard to dodge—especially in sex-crazed, puritanical America.”
  • Her standard poodle’s name is Belinda Barkowitz.
  • Erica is a poet at heart who believes that words can save the world.
  • Her name is mentioned in the Bob Dylan song “Highlands.”

What You Need to Know: Even though Fear of Flying was first published in 1973, the story and feminist message is still relevant today. I selected this book as one of my book club picks and loved reading it. I guarantee your club will have an enlightening and interesting conversation on the role of women, our relationships with men, and our search for purpose. The heroine of the book, Isadora Wing, plays a key role in the three subsequent novels that Erica penned—How to Save Your Own Life, Parachutes and Kisses, and Any Woman’s Blues. I have not read these last three yet, but they are on my reading list.

Web site: The official Erica Jong Web site

The Erica Jong Experience: Are you an aspiring writer, student, or part of a book club? Erica has a whole web page with tips for you at How cool is that? It’s a great place to get inspiration and encouragement, and you can read her “20 Tips for Writers.”

Even Erica’s memoirs, published in 2006, became a national bestseller and you can read all about her life as a writer inSeducing the Demon: Writing for My Life.

Check out her poetry Becoming Light: Poems New and Selected

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