Fridays are normally when I talk about some aspect of my current project, Willows of Fate. I vent my frustrations or ruminate on some part of the writing process. Unfortunately, I have nothing to share this week because I’ve barely written.
This is partially because of the bad winter weather that rolled through last week and took out our power for nearly twenty-four hours. It’s also because the fan in our desktop computer is malfunctioning and my Scrivener program is only on that computer. However, those are just excuses. I did, after all, manage to write the epilogue to the novel on our laptop and we have plenty of pens, pencils, and paper. There’s nothing to keep me from writing…except myself.
There’s an old adage that we are our own worse enemies. This is never truer than when writing. Insecurities and doubts plague like gnats and we can’t think of what to put down next, not because we don’t know what will happen but because we fear that what is in our minds isn’t good enough.
Good enough for whom, though, exactly? There will always be someone who won’t like what we write. We can’t expect everyone to love us. Not everyone is a fan of Shakespeare or Tolkein. Where is it written that we should expect everyone to love our work if we just put the proper sequence of words on paper? Isn’t it arrogant to have such an expectation?
Who do we write for? I argue that, in part, we write for ourselves. Whether our attempts are met with success or failure, we must face ourselves everyday. We have to own up to having written a certain work. And what we’ve written must satisfy ourselves before we can hope that it will satisfy others. Granted, the feeling that something could be better is common, but I think all writers feel a measure of satisfaction. “Yes. I wrote that. It says what I want it to say. Maybe I could improve how I say it just a little bit more but it still says what I wanted to say.” Unfortunately, not all writers write for the story, but for money and fame. In doing so, they sacrifice something incredibly important.
In Donald Maass’s The Fire in Fiction, he talks about how it is the perceptions and opinions of characters that give a novel its voice. However, so many manuscripts that come across his desk lack powerful opinions. The characters lack perceptions. The entire thing lacks depth, as if the author were afraid of saying something offensive or something that would limit his readership. Maass laments such a fear, because it is a hindrance.
I think every writer, at some point, gets halted by fear, whether of rejection, ridicule, or failure. But the difference between someone who writes as a hobby or for money and someone who writes because they can’t imagine doing or being anything else is courage. Courage, after all, isn’t being unafraid. It’s going on despite that fear, in the very face of it. Courage is doing what we feel we must do in order to be true to ourselves.
Looks like it’s either time to suck it up or delete all my online accounts and forget all about writing. Since you’re reading this, I suppose it’s plain what I choose.