Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Writing riskily (blog + vlog)

I'm heading into the climax of my rewrite. But first I have to prepare myself for all the crazy scenes to come, so I'm thinking of everything my two main characters have gone through thus far and amplifying it, asking myself "What is the most intense version of this emotion?" and "What is the biggest form these struggles can take?"

Dorothy Allison says:
I believe the secret of writing is that fiction never exceeds the reach of the writer's courage. The best fiction comes from the place where our terror hides. Until I was...writing about exactly the things I was most afraid of and unsure about, I wasn't writing worth a damn.
Eudora Welty says:
If you haven't surprised yourself, you haven't written.
Not sure who said it first but people always say:
If you haven't risked anything, you haven't lived.
I think we could combine those to say:
If you haven't risked anything, you haven't written.
Anne Lamott describes an experience reading one of her father's short stories with a friend when she was a teen. I don't have children yet, but I've wondered what it will be like to be a writer and a mom. To think of risking harm to our parents is one thing, but what will it be like to wonder how my children will receive my books? We can't wonder. Can't restrain ourselves. Here's the Lamott quote:
This is wonderful, I thought, throwing my head my back jovially; my father writes pornography.
So I ask myself What do I risk by writing this book? As I go into the climax, I think its important to note. Every story I write will incur different risks. Here are some specific to my current WIP:

I am willing to expose my daddy issues and how much I truly miss my hometown friends, even when they've seem to forgotten about me: they never call. I am willing to risk showing the world that I don't often feel like I belong anywhere. That I sometimes make things up to push people away. That I don't really understand boys, with the exception of two. That I feel lonely. I'm willing to risk letting my family know that I would leave and never see them again if some brand new world opened itself up to me, if I could go to Hogwarts or the blue and dangerous planet, Pandora. I know that sounds cheesy, but if fantasy became reality, I'd dive in.

There are many risks for me with this story, one of which being failure of course. It's been one year since I finished the first draft! Eek! But its all good, because I just effing love this story.

So, when you meditate on your own WIP, or when you blog, or when you comment, I ask that you answer this question: What do you risk with your current project?

(If you decide to post about your answer, link to this post, and comment your link below).

AND, just for you, here's a video. I did it first thing this morning so I could hurry up and get to writing, so do enjoy the bedhead...NO wait...the rockstar hair...NO wait...Hahahaha the writerstar hair. Oh dear me, somebody needs her coffee!


  1. Writerstar hair! LOL

    The risk for me is disappointment - disappointing readers, agents, editors, friends, colleagues, the mailman, whatevs. Of course that's the risk of everything (not just the writing). But be courageous! Never Give Up! (that's me, talking to myself again). :)

  2. I so love this blog!!! Thanks for popping over to my BBQ post so I could find you. And yes, if we don't take risks in writing, and just play it safe, how will we learn? Or progress? Or get past our fears holding us back? Great post.

  3. I am sort of wandering in a post-risk apocalyptic writer-spacesdisguised a mere normal life.....

    the adhd makes any work done magical, surprising and mysterious....

    I like your courage and willingness to vlog
    Aloha from Waikiki (down da hill)

    Comfort Spiral

  4. those typos made me sound idiotic or shamanistic or drunk....

  5. Well, good thing I like idiots shamans and drunks!!! :)

  6. I like that, "what is the risk?" If you've risked nothing then you haven't written.