I was at conference last week, as you all know, and I came away from it thinking about so many things that I decided to just go ahead and do a mismatched post about all the things I’m pondering. It’s eclectic, though, actually, I think there might be a unifying theme…whatever you do, wherever you go…go all the way. Now, buckle up and embrace the random.
Random thought #1: I have a tendency to pull my punches, I know I’ve mentioned this before. But I get very nervous when I start thinking “Oh, maybe my heroes conflict is this!” and it’s something dark and potentially iffy. I start worrying, is it too far? Is he still likable?
This is usually the point where I pull my punch. Where I got into a safer place because what I’m REALLY thinking seems a little too…insane. And my editor always calls me on it. Because what I’m doing is dishonest. It’s not true to the character, it’s me worrying about taking a chance.
I have to say, thanks to faithful CPs, I managed to push myself this time. I was nervous writing the conflict for my latest hero (The Ice Man) because it was…bad. He was bad. He had his reasons, and some might call them honorable on a skewed moral plane, but ultimately, he was into some shady stuff. This time though, I just decided I didn’t care if I had to rewrite the whole thing, because it was worth taking the risk. And the risk paid off.
I often find, and I think I’ve said this a few times, but it takes me time to learn my own lessons, that the risk ultimately wasn’t AS risky as I thought. But I think it feels exposing sometimes to bare yourself and write something so TRUE about your characters, because maybe it reveals something of us? I’m not really sure. All I know is sometimes it’s scary, but you have to go all the way anyway.
Random thought #2: You need to own your own joy. I find it’s very easy to give the power of your happiness over to other people. An agent, an editor, a publisher, a reviewer, sales figures…whatever it might be. Those things are important and it’s easy to see why things not going your way with them would bum you out. And I’m not saying you can’ t feel unhappiness, but to a certain extent, if you want to be in this business, you have to learn to give yourself power over your feelings, and not so many other people. Otherwise it’s like a roller coaster you can’t get off with other people and outside factors dictating how you feel about what you do in the privacy of your office every day. There is so much out of our control, but we can write. We can still try to shut out the outside influences and embrace the JOY of it. Because there is joy in writing, and it’s a wonderful job if you can get it.
Don’t be afraid to be happy. That sounds weird but I feel like people are very negative about their own work sometimes as a way of trying to cushion any blows they might receive. I do this too. I try to stay detached from books I’m not sure will sell. But it makes the writing of them SO MUCH HARDER! And to be honest it doesn’t make a setback hurt less, not in the end. It’s worth it to do whatever you have to in order to preserve the joy you find in working on a project. Because if writing is your job, your forever job, then being unhappy while doing it is just going to be…miserable.
Random though #3: Reach for the stars – whatever that means to you. We all have goals. We all have dreams. There’s nothing wrong with aiming really high. There’s nothing wrong with making choices that might make other people scratch their heads. This business is personal, your goals are personal. They’re about you and what you want out of your career. They aren’t about other people, or what choices they might have made. It’s find to take advice and seek advice, I’m not saying not to. But everyone has an opinion, and while it might be perfectly valid for them, it may not be for you.
We don’t need to be in separate camps. We’re all writers, more than that, we’re all business people who have a specific model for our personal career trajectory. It will not be the same as everyone else’s. It doesn’t make you, or them, wrong.
Above all, don’t let fear hold you back from any of the above. Go all out, do it with joy, while reaching for the stars.