Thursday, July 31, 2014

Evolution Of A Writer Part 2.1 FEAR

I forgot a major item from my last evolutionary update. Fear. Yep, fear is a big item for me. Fear of success. Fear of failure. Fear of not having anymore stories in me. It's all there ready to trip me up at a moments notice.
I remember the day I published Fat Farm. I had originally done the story as an e-book. I sat at the table with my laptop and stared at the screen wishing my hand would move on its own and push the "publish" button. I had butterflies in my stomach and I wasn't sure what to do. I took a deep  breath and pushed that button. I think I had an anxiety attack that lasted a week.

Did the fear go away? Hello no. I decided to do the book as a print-on demand as well. I felt the fear, anxiety, butterflies, and a bit of nausea when I pushed that button. The same when I did my give-away in June. I sat and stared at that button before I moved my mouse over it and pressed "OK."

I'm working on my new book, The Insignificant Amy Dodd, and every time I send pages to my critique group, I'm anxious. I know that when I send it to an editor I will feel physically ill. And I know when I press that "publish" button the next time, butterflies and nausea will right there.

Sometimes I think there is a fear of what we, or should I say I, write. We had an exercise in my writing group and the subject was betrayal. I didn't want to write about being betrayed by lovers, friends and family. I wanted to write something different. An idea came to me and I wrote my piece. I was afraid to read it to the group. What would they think? Would it offend anyone? I like these people. I didn't want to offend anyone. I didn't need to worry. I don't know if everyone liked it, but I got feedback on what to improve. No judgement on anything else.

I've wanted to post the piece on my blog for a while. I think it's a good piece. I like it. I think it's worth sharing, but as with the group, I am afraid. What if someone got mad. What if...What if... I've decided that I can't worry about the "what if's" anymore. There's a reason a story needs to be told and I can't worry about offending anyone. Not everyone is going to like it. Not everyone liked Fat Farm. Not everyone is going to like The Insignificant Amy Dodd and that's okay. So, this is now my "No Fear Zone." Am I still going to be afraid? Probably. Am I going to let it hold me back on what I write and publish? No it's not. So the first step is to post my piece. If you would like to read Betrayal, then read on.

Devastation. Brokenness. Destruction. Pain. All this because of one. His heart ached. The pain was unbearable. It had to stop. He was waiting.

His body tensed as Michael brought the prisoner before the throne. “You betrayed me.” His eyes met those of the traitor. His voice cracked.  “Why?”

The prisoner struggled against Michael’s grip. “Why?” He stopped moving for a moment, his chin held high. “You have the gall to ask me that?”

“Let him go, Michael.” Michael released the betrayer and stepped back.  “I made you…”

“For what?” He crossed him arms and stood ramrod straight. “Your amusement? To be your little pet?” He gestured to Michael and the rest of the gathered crowd. “Yes, you created us. But we’re not like you. Why not? Are we not your favorite creations? Do you really love those creatures on earth more than us? Are you afraid?”

“Enough!” Elohim jumped up from his throne and walked down the six steps toward Lucifer. “You were my favorite. I gave you everything!” Elohim eyes were cold. He shoved Lucifer. His voice low and tense. “You betrayed me.” He pulled his arm back, his hand in a fist.  “I should kill you! Scatter your ashes to the firmament then raise you up and kill you again! The crowd gasped. “I should…” Elohim dropped his arm to his side, shoulders slumped. “But I can’t. You are my creation. I love you.”  Elohim put his hands on Lucifer’s shoulders. “You betrayed me, but I still love you.” Elohim let Lucifer go.  “Your hunger for power started a war. A war that has killed many. That is unforgivable.”

Lucifer sneered. “Not killing me will be your downfall.” He started toward Elohim. Michael stopped him. “Do you really think you can stop me? My army will rise once again and we will have the power you deny us. We will be gods!”

Elohim climbed the steps to his throne, sat down his heart breaking. “No you won’t. You and yours will be punished.” Tears filled Elohim’s eyes. “Your pride and lust for power has damned you and your army.” He turned away from Lucifer. “Michael, take Lucifer and his followers and throw them out of this place. They are banished, never to return.”  A single tear rolled down Elohim’s face.

“This is not finished!” Lucifer struggled as Michael dragged him away. “Paradise will be mine! Earth will be mine!” The doors slammed shut. All was silent.

Be fearless in your writing. I know I am.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Evolution Of A Writer - Part two

Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit  451 is one of my favorite books. It's a dystopian tale where books are banned and firefighters burn books instead of put out fires. It is a complex, socially profound piece of work. It was written during the McCarthy Era when Americans were questioned and accused of being communists. It was a terrible time in our history. If you haven't read it, I highly recommend it. Where am I going with this? Be true to yourself in your creations.

Mr. Bradbury wrote a story that was harsh, sad, and really didn't have a "happily ever after" ending and it's okay. It was the right ending.  Fat Farm is another dystopian tale that doesn't have a "happily ever after" ending, but it has the right ending for that story.  Am I comparing my work to Ray Bradbury's? Certainly not.  So what does this have to do with my evolution? Write what is right.

I learned a very important lesson on my journey to become a good writer. Don't be afraid of your story. My current project, The Insignificant Amy Dodd, is a hard story to write. I want it to be good. Actually, I want it to be extraordinary. I know what my expectations of the story are, but can I reach them? Did I set the bar to high? I belong to a wonderful critique/writing group. We get together every Saturday to hone our craft, and on Tuesdays to critique our projects. The critiques of my work have been extremely helpful and thought provoking, and will help this story be the best it can be. So, what have I learned from my wonderful group of friends?
  1. Don't protect your characters. Let them live in your story. My current project involves a character who is being bullied. My friends brought to my attention that I might be protecting her. I thought, really? But once I thought about it, I was. I don't want her to get hurt, but this is a redemption story and she has to rise above the pain. I see some major rewrites in my future, but it will make the story so much better.
  2. Give yourself permission to write. I thought I was doing that, but I realized maybe not. I have two children and am a stay-at-home mom. I have a lot on my plate. I grab time to write instead of taking the time to write.I'm learning to tune out my children and just write. My children are 10 and 11, so they don't have to be micromanaged at this point. And school starts in two weeks. Yay!
  3. It's okay to write a crappy first draft. This is probably the most important lesson. I want my story to be perfect the first go-around. It's not and I'm going to have to face that. I'm a perfectionists in many areas of my life. (I wish housekeeping was on of them.) I want to be perfect the first time I try anything, It has taken me a long time to realize it's not going to happen, but it is something I struggle with every day. So, I will write my crappy first draft, have my friends critique it, and make it a great story.
Writing is hard. The work that goes into your creation, the time, the development of characters, the world building is nerve wracking and wonderful. We get to go on any adventure we want. We learn from our characters and maybe become someone better. Amy is teaching me a lot about myself that I'm not sure I want to know, but it is all good. And that is what matters.

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