The University of North Georgia's Student Newspaper




Overcoming Fear Deep In The Forest

Photo Credit: Kelsey Podo: Gainesville Times

“Deep in the Forest” is a dramedy written by retired UNG professor Douglas Young. The book, set in a small town in the heart of Dixie, focuses on young high school teacher Elton Peabody. One seemingly ordinary Friday night, a UFO invades the town, and Elton goes deep into the forest to investigate. The story focuses on the aftermath of the traumatic event and explores how someone could go on with their life after experiencing such an episode.

Young developed a passion for American literature when he was in ninth grade. “Ever since I fell in love with Ernest Hemmingway, John Steinbeck, and people like that. I have nurtured a dream of becoming a novelist. But, I never had the guts. I never had the confidence to try to follow through until a long time later,” Young said.

In the summer of 2018, he had eight weeks of free time between the end of the spring term and the beginning of the second session summer classes. “I got to thinking… I’m in the latter half of my 50’s. If I’m ever going to have realistic hope of fulfilling this dream of being a novelist, now is the time,” Young said.

For decades, he thought of what if somebody encountered a UFO and never found out what it was. He then would have to live the rest of his life knowing that he just had an incredible experience, but he couldn’t explain it. Could he handle that ambiguity? He wondered what would happen to the person after the fact.

“I’ve read about UFOS and seen all the documentaries. Everything was about the actual close encounter. There’s nothing about the rest of their lives. So I wondered what it would be like,” said Young. “Would people treat them differently? How would he go on with his life?”

He asserted that this was one of the most joyful and creative endeavors of his life. Young had dabbled in writing for years, writing columns for newspapers. But, this one had no rules; he could write whatever he wished. He had no outline in mind when writing this book, up until halfway through the novel. “I realized I didn’t have to have this detailed outline of exactly what I wanted to write,” said Young. “Just once I was at the keyboard and having fun… things would just naturally come to mind.”

“And if you were to ask what I most want people to get out of this book… If there’s any lesson or theme, it is that if we want to live a truly full and satisfying life as opposed to a safe and comfortable one, we need to face our fears. It’s really important for us to try to overcome our shyness.” – Douglas Young

He explained that he has always been fearful of failure. As a result, he had allowed himself to be content within his comfort zone. “For decades, I knew I could write… but I never tried to write short stories or novels… I just didn’t want to fail,” Young said. “And that’s on me, that’s a real regret that I have. I should’ve started writing a long, long time ago.”

Overcoming fear and shyness is the central theme in the book. Elton Peabody’s greatest struggle or his “cross to bear” is his shyness. He lives in the town he grew up in, is a teacher at his hometown high school, and gave up his dreams of achieving a Ph.D. to play it safe. He only grows, matures, and becomes happier when he forces himself to face his fears.

“Life is scary, and even the happiest of people have a lot of turmoil. We all go through struggles. We all go through pain, and you can’t grow without falling,” said Young. “You have to make mistakes, and you learn from those mistakes; when you get scars, you grow some scar tissue.”

“All of my regrets – and I have a lot of them are over missed opportunities… That I didn’t try writing a novel decades before,” said Young. “I have no regrets about being a professor all those years, but neither do I have any regrets about retiring when I did so I could write full time.”

Leave a Comment
Donate to Vanguard

Your donation will support the student journalists of University of North Georgia. Your contribution will allow us to purchase equipment and cover our annual website hosting costs.

More to Discover
Donate to Vanguard

Comments (0)

All Vanguard Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Activate Search
Overcoming Fear Deep In The Forest