Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Do one thing every day that scares you.
-Elanor Roosevelt

Kathleen Duey is doing something pretty amazing. She's writing a novel on twitter. In her words:

A novel. A whole novel in Russet's voice, written in Twitter's 140 (or less) character bursts.

In public. Real time. No revision. (via Cynsations)

Why would she do this? After all, so much could go wrong. She's writing on the fly, without an outline--and while I do that, too, I also know I could drop the story and quit writing it if it doesn't work. And--even crazier--she's posting immediately as soon as she writes it. Which revisions. No changes. Once it's up, it's up. You can't unpost.

So why is she doing this?

In a word: fear.

She said that
At a conference, I heard myself giving advice that I hadn't followed in a long time.

I wasn't experimenting with anything that scared me to death anymore. (via Cynsations)
I've been thinking about this since I read it yesterday.

I've always been a bit afraid of my best writing.

And my writing that's dry and stiff--that had no association with fear. I was just getting words on the page.

And it shows.

I can pinpoint scenes that gave my heart a squeeze or my stomach a clench. That scene where the characters kiss? Terrified--what if I didn't make it sincere enough? What if my readers laughed at the awkwardness of it? Oh, and that final battle scene--I was on the edge of my seat, in part because I was scared of not making that scene good enough for a last battle.

And there's other kinds of fear in writing. Breaking outside of your norm is one way. I'd once blogged about how much I hate first person POV in present tense. I like fantasy, not sci fi. But this most recent novel I'm working on? A first person POV present tense science fiction novel.

And I'm terrified.

More scared of this one than I've been in a long time. I don't know what I'm doing--and all those old fears of writers keep cropping up. I'm not good enough, I couldn't write my way out of a paper bag, who do I think I am to be putting these words down? And then there's the actual writing. It's a murder mystery (in space!), so is my killer creepy enough? Are my characters Nancy-Drew-enough? And then there's the genre. Will anyone even like this book? Will an agent? Will an editor? It's a weird little novel, a strange little thing that I'm not sure could even find a home with anyone but me.

See? Terrified.

But oh. It's been fun.

I feel a bit like Kathleen:
And when I thought about all the ways it could blow up in my face I felt almost sick. Bingo, eureka, perfect. I was scared to death.

Still am. But it has been worth it.

So, what about you? Are you doing something that scares you? Is it working?
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