"Creativity requires the courage to let go of certainties." –Erich Fromm
Awhile back, while shopping at a local store I ran into an old friend from many years back. We hugged and shared tidbits of our lives. Her mom approached, and my friend offered up introductions adding, "Chiron's writing books now."
Her mom smiled as she gripped my hand, saying, "That's wonderful that you make yourself do that."
Laughing, I responded, "And I do make myself do it."
It takes courage, you see, to be a writer. Not just stamina and perseverance, but the courage to Boldly Go Where No One Has Gone Before.
"Security is mostly a superstition. It does not exist in nature, nor do the children of men as a whole experience it. Avoiding danger is no safer in the long run than outright exposure. Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." –Helen Keller
Having the courage necessary to accomplish what we choose is not always easy. We tend to beat ourselves up not only for every mishap, *groan* but for every quiver of fear that sneaks into our hearts. We think, "real" writers wouldn't tremble and shake. Uh-oh. There follows the logic that we daren't admit those worries lest others sneer at us, as we sneer at ourselves.
This tied in with a dream of mine. I was trying to cross a bridge that consisted of nothing more than a long plank and a wobbly cable on either side. Sheer terror gripped me. I backed away, explaining to my friend that I was afraid to fall. But I needed to get across! Finally, the solution came to me. I grabbed a bandana with the intention of tying it around my eyes, and letting my friend lead me across. Hah! Sometimes just pretending what we fear isn't there can give us the courage we need to cross that bridge.
With every book we write we're "crossing a bridge", and yes, the truth is, we might fall. Sometimes we have to close our eyes to what frightens us and move forward anyway.
"It's not so much that we're afraid of change or so in love with the old ways, but it's that place in between that we fear . . . . It's like being between trapezes. It's Linus when his blanket is in the dryer. There's nothing to hold on to." –Marilyn Ferguson
In my dream, I not only closed my eyes and refused to look at what feared me I also did what every writer should do when panic or discouragement strikes: I reached out to a friend. Writing is a solitary business; it's easy to feel we're all alone.
Remember this, my friends. You Are Not Alone. Every writer experiences panic, discouragement, fear and trepidation. If you're reading this, you're already connecting with another writer who 'gets it.' If you're involved in a writing chapter or you have critique partners, reach out and say… "Help!!" The community of writers is a family and while there will always be a relative or two that makes you roll your eyes and duck into the corner, you'll find most of us are willing to help because We Understand.
"Whatever you do, you need courage. Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising that tempt you to believe your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires some of the same courage that a soldier needs. Peace has its victories, but it takes brave men and women to win them." – (attributed to) Ralph Waldo Emerson
When I felt discouragement, I reached out to two of my most trusted compatriots. Their insights and encouragement helped me to "cross the bridge."
Courage, my friends, is what being a writer is all about. Courage to face those empty pages, or yet another query. Courage to tackle a fresh scene that eludes us. Courage to revise, once again, a book struggling to come alive. Take just a moment now and consider just how courageous you are! You Are A Writer. This is scary stuff indeed. And here's something to think about… Daredevil stunts or taming lions, sure, that's dangerous. However, once you've jumped out of an airplane, you pretty much know what to do next time around. With writing, Each and Every Book Is New. You, my friend, are the ultimate adventurer. *wink*
"Yesterday I dared to struggle. Today I dare to win." –Bernadette Devlin
"To dare is to lose one's footing momentarily. To not dare is to lose oneself." –Soren Kierkegaard
The best part is that we aren't solitary adventurers! There's always encouragement or support when you need it. Only one catch—you have to reach for it. Extend a hand and let your fellow writers know when you need help crossing your own bridge.
Courage is the hallmark of every writer. Still, courage is not necessarily an inborn trait. We develop our bravery just as we develop our writing. Part of the process, of course, will be incidents that demand valor. Horrid contest reviews, anonymous rejections, or just the dread arising when you worry you'll never finish your scene, chapter, or book. *gulp* Reach out and take a hand, my friend. Even the most courageous writers need to remember, We Are Not Alone…
"One isn't necessarily born with courage, but one is born with potential." –Maya Angelou
Here's to a week filled with adventures in writing, eh?
How's about you? Care to share your goals? I'd also love to hear your own stories of courage… How have you handled fear or discouragement? Please share!
Also featured at Pop Culture Divas