Friday, December 13, 2013

Be Brave and Experiment On


 Bonnie's year end round up was a terrific way to draw our 2013 Carpe Annum to a close. So much wisdom and brain power in the same writing space! If you’re like me, one piece of advice stood out and made you say Oh, yes! Of course! Why hadn’t I thought of it and/or why had I forgotten it?  

While all of our interviews shared amazing insights, this statement by Julie Cantrell caused me to palm-smack myself in the forehead: 
 I’m begging you… write as if no one will ever read it. That’s the only way you’ll find your true, original voice and feel free enough to reach the level of honesty readers really crave.”  
This is a powerful statement with many possible implications. I’ve been here before, and I’ll bet you have, too. 

How would I know whether or not I write in my true, original voice? 

If I don’t have it, how can I be sure when I find it?

How free do I want to be? Am I willing to go to that level of honesty?

What if no one likes the one and only original me?

Some of these are legitimate concerns and some are just plain whining with old-fashioned avoidance mixed in.  Ahem.
We all want to be the best writers we can be, so we gird our loins and wade into the fray. To start the process, we could read aloud a passage from one of our manuscripts, shutting out the voices criticizing our words and refusing to wrestle with the real or imagined expectations of friends and family. This is not easily done.  We could write this one short passage over several times, allowing ourselves to be more fearless with each attempt. After all, we've promised ourselves that no one will ever read it. We can afford to write with abandon in private.  Repeat after me: "I have nothing to lose and everything to gain."

If we find our true, original voices, will we have the courage to use them? We writers are sensitive creatures. Will we expose ourselves to criticism if our true voices aren’t what others expect?  Or will we find that readers click with our honesty and devour our stories?  

Think of the most honest, original voice you’ve enjoyed reading. Was it safe? Was it like all the others? I’ll bet it kept you engaged and made you crave the next book.  Wouldn’t it be great if readers said that about our stories? The possibility makes it worth taking chances on ourselves.

Do you have the courage to find your true, original voice? We’d love to hear about your progress. Be brave and experiment on.


Susie Finkbeiner said...

Yes! Julie's statement got me to sit up straight and gulp down the sip of coffee so it wouldn't come out my nose. Yes! Of course!

When I wrote my first novel, I KNEW for CERTAIN that nobody would read it. The writing didn't scare me at all. It was freeing. Fluid. But then, after I signed the contract for it, I started to tense up. Had a panic attack or two because I worried that it was too vulnerable. Fortunately, at that point, it was too late to stifle the voice. My second novel? Oh that was composed with much fear and trembling. Thank goodness I had great friend praying for and encouraging me.

This third novel I'm writing is back to the freeing feeling. It's fabulous. I think part of my uninhibited writing is the joy of knowing that I really would want to read this story. It's a novel that's lived in me since high school. That's a long gestational period. And I feel like I'm bursting it to life.

Check back with me next week, though. I might be in agony then. Who knows. This writing life can be so flippy floppy.

Thanks for this Pep Talk, Debbie!

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Susie, I hear ya. I think most people would say they wrote the first book with abandon. I'm sure I did, too. When it gets real, we freeze up. What's with that? It is a constant struggle to be real.

Megan Sayer said...

Ohhhh yeah!!!
I've often complained about the isolation of my particular writing journey (cue teary monologue about all that Novel Matters has meant to be). However, having now met a whole huge amount of writers in the flesh, having been two two writer's conferences, having chatted with agents and editors in the flesh, I now see things a little differently.
I saw The Box. You know, as in "write outside the box"? Yeah. I'm outside the box. Actually, I saw that I was across the road and down the street from the box. Possibly in the next suburb :) That's what you get for cutting your writing teeth in wild, unsafe abandon.
I'm not too worried about this. I'm proud of what I've written, even if The Box was a bit of an eye-opener. I'm thinking there might be another box around the next corner that I might be a little closer to. We'll see. And meanwhile, I'll keep writing what's true to me.

Megan Sayer said...

D'uh. Make that all *all that Novel Matters has meant to ME*.
In case you were wondering, you know.

Debbie Fuller Thomas said...

Megan, keep up your un-box writing. All things in writing get refined, including our true voices. They change and evolve over time with experience, experiences, age, etc. So glad for your 'in the flesh' experiences.

Henrietta Frankensee said...

Ah yes, boxes. Meant for destruction, they are. Hand over the gunpowder! I am still on my first project. Some people are reading and enjoying my story and wrestling with the originality. I don't feel sorry for them. I hope they arrive at a place where their minds are exercised. At the same time I am listening to where they struggle with the story. This is an entirely different matter that I must attend to with all diligence.