I’m thinking about fear this morning. This was initially prompted by this post by Kristen Lamb, which is well worth reading. Go ahead, I’ll wait.
The post got me thinking, which good posts ought to do. And I have a confession:
Through most of my life, I avoided doing anything I wasn’t good at.
Ballet? You want me to do what with my feet? Um, no.
Gymnastics? I’m eight years old in a class with 4 year olds and don’t know how to do a cartwheel… Don’t think so.
Softball? Wait, you expect me to coordinate this stick along with the rest of my body in order to hit that ball…. DUCK. (Admittedly, this might’ve gone better if my coach had realized I was left-handed and taught me to pitch and swing accordingly).
Guitar? Are you kidding me? My husband is amazing at it and I’ll never be that good because I just don’t love it enough.
It’s easy to do the things that we’re good at. There’s no challenge there, no real fear. I was good at school and the grade thing. I’m good at cooking. I’m good at writing (at least compared to the general public). I poured time and energy into all these things because they were, to a point, EASY and fun and I could be reasonably sure of the outcome. I’ve done them, and done them well.
This is not a brave way of approaching life.
I mean, there’s nothing wrong with doing stuff you find easy that you like, but if you don’t ever step outside that comfort zone, don’t ever try new things or push yourself for fear that you’re going to suck, you don’t grow. You stagnate. You might even get complacent.
I’ve spent a fair amount of time the last month kind of beating myself up about DOTH and the fact that I just flat didn’t do it right the first time. I saw that time as wasted, feel like I’m behind schedule, behind on my goals.
But here’s the thing: I wrote through fear. Because yeah, I was (and still kind of am) afraid of this book, this trilogy. It’s so much BIGGER (not just in length) than anything I’ve ever tried to do before. It is well outside my established comfort zone of short and sweet, resolved in one book, world like ours but with some extra stuff added. Those are the things I know I’m good at. They don’t require me to stretch my creative muscles much or grow as a writer. This story requires a whole new world. It requires a comprehensive metaplot beyond any I’ve written before. It has the chance of being thematically awesome (SO isn’t there yet). It is a BIG DREAM.
So I didn’t get it right the first time. So what? That doesn’t mean it was time wasted. It’s the first thing I’ve written in my professional writer life without outside help. Toddlers don’t walk way from Mom on their own without falling. But that’s how they learn. This experience was really me stepping out on my own a bit too soon. I learned what I still do well and what I haven’t yet internalized without somebody (:cough: The Pink Hammer :cough:) reminding me “hey, did you think about x, y, z?” I know where I went wrong and (mostly) how I need to fix it. And I will do better the next go round since I’m more cognizant of the weak spots.
I wouldn’t have learned that stuff if I hadn’t tried to do something bigger, if I hadn’t written despite the fear. And I’ll be stronger for my failures.