Monday, December 6, 2010

What Scares You About Writing?

News and things

I'm planning on starting work again on my novel. Actually, scratch that. I'm planning on starting work on three of them. Two are re-writes and one is in a stalled-out first draft. These are three projects I feel extremely passionate about and I want to see them all finished.

The hard part right now is deciding which one to pick first.

Sometimes I really wish I could just ASK all the agents--Would you want to request pages for this plot concept? Because I have twenty more if nobody's interested in this one. But you can't do that. Danggit.

Oh, in other (completely unrelated) news, the kitties are getting along famously now. I'm extremely relieved--I'd been reading too many horror stories about neurotic cats that never adjust to the companion adopted to keep them company. But our sweet little cats love each other. They share a food bowl and spend hours snuggling and licking faces. It's been a little over a week, and I don't think either of them remembers that they ever lived without the other.

* pauses for a collective awwww *

The scary part about writing

For me, the hardest part of writing is that fear of failure. When I dream up a story, I see it in my head. Not the whole thing with every detail and every word and every plot twist neatly wrapped up, but the general shape and beautiful, sharp little fragments and snapshots and the FEEL and TASTE and AURA of the story. It's like an addicting mental perfume and I am just in love with it and blown away by it as it comes together. Then when the time comes to do the writing part, I freeze.

What if I write it and it isn't any good? What if I can't capture the things in my head with words? What if I don't know what I'm trying to say?

What if.

I really wish I had some magical comfort to give myself about this. I don't really know how to combat this fear, except for in two ways.

1) I believe it was Robin McKinley who first put me straight about this. On her blog, she wrote about this fear and she said essentially that the story will never be as perfect on paper as it is in your head. So get over that and just write it. So I'm giving myself permission to be a human being and not have a perfect manuscript the first time, or the second, or maybe even the final time. Kind of a scary thought ... but freeing too. If freaking Robin McKinley can say something like that, I feel comforted. Because The Blue Sword was very nearly the perfect book.

2) I read this quote today, and it made me smile. It also made me think. It was by Nic Alderton, and it was pretty long, but he basically said and I'm paraphrasing here, "Think of a story and write it down. What's going to get in your way? Not thinking it up and not writing it down."

So . . .

So I can't overcome failure by hiding or wishing I would just sit down and write a perfect, polished manuscript with one snap of my fingers. I can't not fail by never doing it because I'm scared I won't do a good job. Not trying is the worst kind of failure. I may not get these books right the first time (*giggles morosely* technically one of them is either the 4th or 5th re-write of its respective book, so ... definitely not), but I can do my best.

And at the end of the day, that's all I can really expect from myself.


  1. Great post, K. I agree with your fear-most thing. Mine is failure too, or mediocrity.

  2. And in my mind, mediocrity = failure :/

  3. yes! this is exactly what happens to me! i didn't write- or draw or do any of the creative things i love- for years because of this fear of mediocrity. and the thing is... how arrogant is that? the thought that what you make has to be GREAT! or it's worthless... that means that everyone else's work that you don't view as GREAT! you see as worthless... and that's not true. why do we put ourselves under that kind of pressure.
    honestly, i know i'm not smart or talented enough to write the best book ever... but i CAN write the best book i can write. and making myself satisfied with that... well, i'm working on that.

  4. @aspiring_x Well, here's to both of us overcoming this fear...


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