Friday, March 26, 2010

Dare Double Dare

Yesterday, Lisa dared us to fling ourselves into this career. Writing is all about daring yourself--how else could anyone have the gumption to start a book?

We talk a lot about fear in writing. Fear is an excellent way to keep you from writing, of course--fear of failure, fear of what you're writing, fear of what will happen afterwards. Fear is the great purple beast that keeps you company under the bed while you lie there not writing. And it's always nice to have company at times like that.

But I think fear can be healthy, too. When you are first sitting down to write a book, it should be scary. Fear means there's something ahead that's hard, that needs to be conquered. If you're not scared to write a book when you sit down to do so, if you already know how to write it when you begin, what's the point of writing it?

I don't know if this will always be true for me. But I've written seven books now, and I've been terrified to write every one of them.

I have a draft of a book sitting on my editor's desk. Two of the minor characters in it won't leave my head. They came out accidentally, randomly, just to fill a narrative need, and now I keep thinking about them. I want to give them their own book--but it's impossible. It's fatally flawed from the very premise. I don't know how to make it work. I can't make it work. I don't have the vision for it, or the poetry.

So, I guess I better try. But first, I'm going to hang out under the bed awhile. My purple beasties are calling.


  1. And then there's the fear that keeps you coming back to a piece- fear that you won't ever quite get what's in your head onto the page. So you keep coming back. Because not coming back is worse than leaving it there, gasping on the page, trying to be what it could someday be...

    But I'm with you this morning. I'm hiding under my bed until at least noon.

  2. After writing five pages of god-knows-what this morning, I am definitely under the bed with you, Anne!

  3. Yikes, you must all dust more often than I do.

  4. My youngest daughter and her friend Evan play a game they call bunnies-under-the-bed. They burrow beneath her bed. And kiss. Which could be a good example of how to treat your beastie. Embrace it! Come at it lips-first!