Wednesday, August 21, 2013

What Do You Write That Scares You?

That's the question a friend on Facebook asked today.

She asked that question because she has an idea for a short fiction piece that somewhat scares her to write. 

I know the feeling. 


Recently, I wrote a short story that scared me as I wrote it. Why? Because I was afraid of what people would think of me once it was published. 

I mean, let's be honest; writers want praise. We want to be liked and respected for our craft--especially, for the writing that means the most to us.

Once "Better Than Everything" was published, I wanted that, 'They like me! They really like me!' praise. And why wouldn't I? I'd grown closer to that story more than any other story I'd written in a long time. It meant a lot to me.

It meant so much to me that I sabotaged it.

Sabotage #1: I ended the story far too soon with an ambiguous ending that was, in a word, horrible. An editor called me out on that in his rejection letter. 

Sabotage #2: I refused to develop the relationship of the two main characters. A different editor called me out on that in his rejection letter.

Sabotage #3: I refused to write a sex scene for the two main characters. My conscience called me out on that one every time I thought about the story.

Now, Sabotage #3 was the most awkwardly squeamish, considering Sabotage #1 and Sabotage #2 were essential to the story. If I wanted this story to be enjoyable, it needed to be longer, and the reader needed to care about my characters.

Besides, I convinced myself I didn't need to write a sex scene for two lesbian teenagers in love. It's not like I have the experience.  

But by the time I got to this point in my revisions, my fear of the story was already deep-seated. Huge drops of sweat would roll down my face at just the thought of posting the link of the published story on Facebook. 

My co-workers were Facebook friends. My boss was a Facebook friend. My Christian family were Facebook friends.

Now, don't get me wrong. It's not as if these people don't know I write. And it's not as if these people don't know I write some off the wall stuff. 

But teenage lesbians in love? That was just embarrassing. And, not to mention, a bit out there, even for me.  

But so what? Who cares? I don't!

That's what I told myself one night as I revised the story. 

And then, something unexpected happened. Despite my fear of the story, I got excited during the revision. 

This was daring. I'm the quiet, serious, predictable guy. Teenage lesbians in love wasn't just off the wall. It was some off the wall shit because one is a gynoid.

In the end, I made a compromise with the sex scene. I think it works. 

Given the feedback (ahem, lack of praise), I've received on the story, you'll just have to decide for yourself if you think it works.

Once you do, come back, nah, ya hear?

I'd love to hear what you have to say about it. 

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