Welcome to another Happy Writers Society meeting! Please, take a seat. Get comfy. Don't fight over the brownie tray—there's plenty for everyone.
A small matter of business before my pep talk: Dayana Stockdale, a member of the society, has interviewed me about HWS and added her own thoughts on the importance of being a happy writer. It's good stuff. Be sure to check it out.
Courage isn't the absence of fear; it's moving forward despite the fear.
I think we've all heard that saying in one form or another, and I'm sure we all agree, too. But it deserves repeating.
In any creative endeavor, there's this element of fear. You're basically taking your thoughts and emotions and putting them on display for the world to see. That's a scary thing! For many reasons. I won't bother naming all them, even.
Today I want to talk about fear of our own ideas in particular. Maybe you've had an idea like that—the one that you know is amazing and yet at the same time you feel like you don't have the ability to portray it.
As an artist, I know this feeling well. There are still images in my head I know I don't have the technical ability to draw. I've had them there for years, and yet every time I try to put them on paper I fail miserably. I crumple the paper and determine that maybe I'll be able to draw it later.
I have these ideas for books too, ones I'm afraid to write because the idea is "too big" for little old me. I start writing them, and they scare the freaking crap out of me.
Transparent was one such idea. My main character is invisible. Invisible. At first I was overwhelmed by how I would portray such a girl, how I would get the reader to connect with a person who had no idea who they really were. I avoided the idea for months, terrified of how big and scary it was, but I finally got up the courage to write it.
And the first attempt was a disaster.
No. I'm not exaggerating.
My agent suggested I REWRITE it. I was devastated—the idea really was too big for me just like I thought! I'd tried to translate this awesome idea into words and it didn't measure up. The thought of rewriting it seemed impossible: I would just mess it up again.
But I did rewrite it, and it was hard. I just barely finished the six month journey! There were times I wanted to give up, where I was sure it was still a piece of crap.
This last read changed my mind. I finished this morning and realized that, though it might not be perfect yet, it IS good. It is closer to the perfect idea in my head. I've translated it better and I'm so, so proud of that!
And I've learned something along the way—that Fear is a good thing.
The Fear tells you you're pushing yourself, that you're growing as an artist. It tells you that you're not playing it safe, and an artist can't play safe if they want to make an impact. I realized I never want to get comfortable, because comfortable means I'm not growing and improving anymore. It means I'm being lazy.
So when I get those chills, when I feel that Fear creeping into my heart, now I will smile. Because I know it means I'm going the right direction.