May 12, 2017 by email@example.com
“Write what scares you” is advice trotted out so often it’s almost trite.
“Write like you’re already dead.” “If you feel fear, you’re onto something.” “If you’re not afraid, you’re not doing it right.”
How many times has an idea crossed your mind–for a novel, a blog/Instagram/Facebook post, an essay–and you’ve thought, “Oh no, I can’t write that.” Did you follow that voice? Not write that thing?
Or have you learned to shut down the voice of fear? The voice that says “I’m not the one to write that.” Or, “People will think I’m _______ [gross/mean/stupid] if I put that out there.” Or, “that’s a great idea, but I’ll never be smart enough to pull it off.”
Not obeying my fear is something I think about quite a bit, in writing and in life. I was grappling with fear mighty heavily last spring when I wrote this. I wanted to re-write my novel–COMPLETELY re-write, keep a couple character’s names but that was it. I had an idea for a more compelling concept than the one I’d spent the last 14 or so months toying with–drafting, revising, dreaming about, etc.
But my idea seemed COMPLETELY IMPOSSIBLE. What good is a killer concept if I didn’t have the chops to pull it off?
Fast forward a year. The novel is written. I’ve researched, drafted, learned to use Scrivener (!. . .kinda), revised, and revised some more. Here’s the thing about that impossible novel, the one I was sure I couldn’t write. . .I think it’s the best thing I’ve made.
I’ve held off on querying it as long as I can (still not quite ready), but the feedback I’ve gotten on this one is better than feedback I’ve gotten for any other novel. I agree. I know it’s better (even though there’s still quite a bit of work to do), because I wrote from vulnerability/mined some of my “secrets” and exploited them on the page in ways I just haven’t done before. The book is realer, better, than my past projects.
Here’s the most amazing part: I actually did it. I wrote the impossible book with the concept totally above my pay-grade!
I say all this because I’ve got another idea floating around my head: a new book. A new book with incredibly sensitive subject matter, in a genre that’s different than mine. A book I’m sure is out of my depth. A book that, if I actually wrote it, would most likely result in my ex-communication from civil society and possible death threats to my family.
[insert jungle drums of doom here]
What do you do when you meet an impossible idea that won’t let go of you?
This one’s got me by the collar. Will it turn into an actual thing? A book? Who knows? I’ve ordered some books from the library–research. I’m gonna putz around and see what develops. Could be something. Could be nothing. Could be some seeds in there that, if not ready to sprout just yet, may send up some green shoots in a few years.
The bottom line is I’m scared, and I think that’s a good thing. I’m gonna see where it leads.