Monday, August 1, 2011

The Bravery of a Writer

Let's face it. It takes guts to be a writer. A serious kind of bravery in a multitude of areas. It's like there's a lot of stones we need to step on to get to where we are going, and even if there are a lot you are perfectly comfortable with stepping on, the massive scope of things means that NO ONE will be comfortable on all the steps. Heck, you might have to summon bravery you never knew you could on every single one of the steps.


Deciding to write a book is NOT one of the scary steps. Just like basket weaving or riding a bike or bowling-- you can decide you want to learn to do something with very little risk. After all, people try new things ALL THE TIME. No one expects anything from you. It's easy. And fun. The scary stuff that takes real bravery comes later.
The first scary moment might be when you decide you want to be published, because along with that decision you have to accept all that comes with it. And there is a LOT that comes with it.

Eventually, you have to tell others that you are a writer. They might think that's the coolest thing ever and wished they had the guts to do what you're doing. Or they might scoff, think you're crazy, stupid, or a dreamer.


Sometimes the hardest part is having the bravery to jump into a really huge storyline. One that feels so much huger than you, you aren't sure you can tackle it.


Or the scariest part can be when you realize all you are going to have to sacrifice to meet your goals.

Or handing your work over to critique partners that might hate your work. They might tear it apart.

Jumping into the blogging world, where strangers read what you write can be require tons of bravery. At least with critique partners, you chose who to have read it. With blogging, you lose all that control!

Then there's getting published. Even if it's not your goal, possibly every writer dreams of writing the book that goes to auction and earns a massive advance, right? Along with that advance comes so much pressure to step things up and market and promote. And the more eyes that are on your book, the more naysayers there will be.

Then, after you get a book deal, there's conferences! And school visits! And all sorts of public speaking opportunities. Maybe getting up in front of a crowd is the thing that scares you the most.


And then, if all that weren't enough, there comes the pressure to make your next book EVEN BETTER than any you've written before.

It's a dang good thing we're a brave lot, isn't it? I mean, the stuff we do could bring mere mortals to their knees! Okay, I'll admit. Quite often it brings us to our knees. Sometimes it even knocks us all the way to the ground.

But then we get back up again and jump on that stone until we can stay there without falling off.

Because we're brave like that.

Out of either morbid curiosity or the need to commiserate, I'm curious. Which stepping stone is the one that requires the most bravery on your part? 
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16 comments:

E.R. King said...

Writers are brave, but I never seem to include myself in the collective "writers." I conveniently forget myself because I don't feel brave at all. I feel like one of those people who gets eaten or killed before the climax of the book/movie. But yes, I think it takes bravery to be writer. I envy those who can do it unscathed.

Krista said...

The hardest part for me is giving my writing over to others to read. I (like all writers) put a lot of myself into my work. This is especially true of my first novel Shadowed Stones. For some reason I think that the readers will see right through the writing to my inner self and not like what they see.

Well, the reaction of my first beta readers to Shadowed Stones surprised me. The love it! But before I found out their reactions I learned that even if they had hated it - that did not mean they hate me.

Mark Noce said...

All very true and good points, but it's usually better than most day jobs, so might as well go for it:)

cherie said...

My writer friends and I were just discussing this not too long ago. It does take guts to proclaim yourself a writer. I've been hiding for a long time before I finally mustered the courage to start a writing blog and be out with it. People that I knew were very encouraging and their responses were very supportive. Some even went to say, "I knew you'd do it someday", which surprised me because I had never really told anyone of my secret dream before. Now, pretty much everyone knows (former high school classmates even, LOL!).

At every stage of a writer's journey, there will always be heart-stopping moments. Writing is such a personal, close-to-the-heart endeavor. By showing others what we've written, we feel vulnerable, as if we're suddenly naked in front of them.

The best thing is to surround yourself with a support group. Preferably other writers because they need the help and love too.

Thanks for following my blog, btw. I love your blog--it's so pretty and so welcoming. ;)

David Powers King said...

All right. I love this post.

Not only did you go through the steps are they really are, but you put actual stones there to bullet point your message across. Public speaking is my greatest step.

Thank you for sharing this great thought!

Kelley said...

I guess I don't find any of these steps scary. Right now maybe I'm at the point where its so early that I don't understand the sting of rejection yet but...

the part that makes me most uncomfortable is telling people I'm a writer because most of the people that I hang with don't even read, let alone write.

That's why I love the online writing community so much, there really isn't anyone I can talk to in my own little world.

L.J. said...

My first scary step was telling everyone I was writing a novel, but now that it's out there, I feel free. Now I'm just scared of the bad critiques, but I'm usually pretty good about taking them in stride.

Peggy Eddleman said...

E.R.-- Your "gets eaten or killed before the climax" comment made me laugh out loud! And no one makes it through unscathed. Some people are just better at hiding the battle wounds than others. :)

Krista-- I think that's a really common fear for writers. It definitely was for me when I was younger. I didn't start writing until my youngest was in kindergarten. I guess I kind of got out of that one easy, because somewhere between high school and then, it had gone away all on its own. And congrats on the writing a book that everyone loves! So very awesome.

Mark-- Yes! So true.

Cherie-- Supportive people definitely make all the difference! It's especially good to have some of them writers, because then they understand. And thank you!

David-- Yay! Highly visual people unite! And public speaking is definitely one of my top two. Possibly even the top one. Something about standing up in front of a crowd makes all thoughts drop out of my head...

Kelley-- Then enjoy EVERY SINGLE MOMENT of right now. And if you never get to the point where things are scary, I want to know! No, seriously. I want a message saying, "Hey, Peggy-- I just got to this step, and I didn't get scared!" I'm really not kidding. And if none of it ends up scaring you, I'll make you a Wonder Woman tiara or a super hero cape. Something. 'Cuz you would totally deserve it.

Peggy Eddleman said...

L.J.-- Yay! One fear conquered! Which is one less you'll ever have to deal with. :)

Kristine said...

I think the 3rd one would be mine. So overwhelming!

Jessie Humphries said...

I think they are all the hardest, depending on what stage of the game you are at.

Lani Wendt Young said...

Defn having people read my writing for the first tinme. Terrifying. My little sister is a PR pro and before my first bk came out, she told my children to help me "get used" to the possible negative criticisms that would follow. Everyday they had to tell me ( in a variety of creative ways) that my book completely sucked. Stank. Bombed.I was supposed to practise smiling, thanking people for taking the time to read it and then keep living. Because as a previous commenter noted - just because someone doesnt like yr work, doesnt mean they dont like you. (By the way, my children LOVED helping me with this assignment. "your book is so bad that we will need to move to a diff country to escape the shame"...etc)
Oh - and this post is soooo cool with the stones laid out that way. U are a picture posting whizz.

Kaylee Baldwin said...

They can all be really hard. Right now, the one that I'm struggling with is tackling a huge storyline. I waffle beteen thinking: This is awesome. This is going so great. I can totally do this. Piece of cake.
And... This is awful. I can't do this! It's way too hard to do my novel this way, what was I thinking!!

My mood is in direct correlation with how much food/sleep/peace I have before I write. :)

Leigh Ann said...

The bravest thing for me is writing every day. Every. Day. When it might not (probably will not) amount to anything. When my heart will be broken when it sits in a drawer forever, and I'll wonder, one day, with a drawer full of horrible novels, how I ever thought it was okay to waste So. Much. Time. Doing this.

I hate not knowing what's ahead. And, it seems in the publishing world, the odds are stacked SO HIGH against me.

So, every time I tap out words on the keyboard...for me, it takes a lot of guts.

(Thanks Peggy.)

CherylAnne Ham said...

This post is awesome! What is scary for one person may be a piece of cake for another.

For me, tell people I'm a writer still freaks me out. I'm letting more and more people in the secret as my confidence grows. Blogging scares me to. I'm always nervous before clicking that publish button.

Letting others read my work doesn't bother me that much for some reason. Ultimately we all have our own hurdles to face.

Thanks for the great post. :D

Peggy Eddleman said...

Kristine-- I think the third one just might be my hardest, too!

Jessie-- Haha! So true.

Lani-- That is high-larious!! Did it help? I think I might have had a hard time getting on board with that-- I'd have gone for asking the neighbor kids or something. :)

Kaylee-- I SO know what you mean.

Leigh Ann-- Aw, I loved that! It's not one I thought to put, and I love the way you told it! You're right. That takes a LOT of guts. Maybe the most of all.

CherylAnne-- I think so, too. Some things are so easy for some people and SO HARD for others.