Sunday, April 25, 2010

Today I Dare To Win...

"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!

--Chiron O'Keefe

Also featured at Pop Culture Divas


Lynn said...

I believe in the power of connecting with others who may not share the same dream as you, but that believe you in. "Extending a hand" of encouragement to others and receiving encouragement, creates courage, for sure. I belong to a couple of goal getting groups that help keep me on track toward my dreams, and goals, and remind me that I am doing it, which is courage itself, even when rejection happens. Thank you for sharing, and love the quotes you used!

Linda LaRoque said...

Those professional friendships are a Godsend at helping us through the stages of fear concerning our work. Isn't it interesting how many we've made over the years via the internet? I'd love to be able to meet these folks face-to-face for a good chat.

Kathy Holmes said...

Feeling stressed that I couldn't make my writing career go where I wanted it to when I wanted to, I wondered if I should stop writing. No, I can't stop. I feel anxious if I'm not writing. So I write and learn something from each manuscript I write.

I cleaned out a closet this weekend and ran across my second manuscript, and like so many writers before me, was horrified at how bad it was. At least I'm improving. lol!

And I agree with Linda about those special connections we've made - few and far between but oh so special. Thanks, Chiron!

Miss Mae said...

I never considered myself being courageous, Chiron. Thanks for showing that to me. :)

nicóle said...

Thank you for commenting on my blog. I mean that. Your comment brought me here and I'm so glad it did. This post was amazing and it made me tear up a little because you were expressing exactly what I'm feeling at the moment.

Thank you. I needed this.

Chiron said...

Hello Lynn!

I believe in those connections too. My closest friends are those with whom I can entrust my heart. They know my fears as well as my hopes and dreams (which we all know can be one and the same from time to time!).

That's so wonderful that you have such great connections with two goal-getting groups. Fabulous! You're right, each step along the journey requires courage.

While reading your lovely comment, it struck me again how 'courage' is right there nestled within 'encouragement'. Pretty darn cool!

Thanks so much for visiting!


Chiron said...

Me too, Linda! The internet has really opened doors in such amazing ways. Why, now that I think about it, it was because of a Compuserve chat group that I traveled to the conference where I met my husband.

How amazing is that?

I loved going to the RWA conference a few years ago and finally meeting some of the cool people in my online chapter! Hope I can do that again sometime.

Thanks so much for stopping by, my dear!


Chiron said...

Hey Kathy!

It really is an eye-opener to read our early stuff, eh? *laughs* I like to refer to my first manuscript as "back when POV was a new concept". *snort*

The truth is there is no reason to stop writing if you love what you do, and every reason to keep moving forward. You never know which will be the magic number. For NY Times bestselling author, Allison Brennan, the number was Five. Her fifth book got picked up and the rest is 'herstory.' *heh-heh*

So glad to see you!


Chiron said...

Aw, Miss Mae!

You are courage herself, facing down the lion with a whip, a chair, and a fascinating tale. *grin*

Thanks for being here!


Chiron said...

Oh, Nicole!!

You are so welcome and Thank-YOU for such lovely words. You really made my day. :-D

Hope to *see* you again!