Waiting for "The Call"

“Honey, it’s always crap. Every book I write is crap. It’s my job to fix the crap afterwards,” according to Nora Roberts. Well, I've got it half right. Still working on the "fixing it" part. "Trust your characters to be complex enough and to have enough emotional baggage. Force them to make hard choices." Advice from Michelle Styles that might help!

Dancing naked November 14, 2009

Filed under: Uncategorized — Autumn Macarthur @ 1:08 pm
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My writing friend Eileen wrote this on her blog last week-

 Have you ever felt like the moment you get comfortable in your own skin you’re asked to dance naked in it?

I love that metaphor. She was talking about something else, but it’s true for writing too.

Writing is self-exposure, whether we want it to be or not. We put so much of ourselves into our stories, then we put them out into the world. No wonder rejections and bad reviews are so hard, it feels like it’s not just the words we wrote that are being rejected, but us as people being judged and found lacking.

Holly Lisle’s newsletter this week was about just this- how whether we mean to or not, we can’t help but put ourselves into our writing. She says-

There are two ways to keep from revealing yourself while writing fiction.  The first is to only write things you
don’t care about.

The second is to not write fiction at all.

Good fiction is personal.  If you’re writing—and if what you’re writing matters to you—you are going to be in your fiction,
and the people who read what you’ve written will read your mind.

They will see YOU.

So if we are going to be naked anyway, may as well dance!

What kind of naked dancer are you?

A Dita Von Teese burlesque?

A pagan stomp around a fire in the woods at full moon?

A seductive hip shimmier?

Right now, I’m standing in the darkest corner of the room, hunched over with one arm wrapped around my breasts, the other covering my pubes. The music might be playing, but I’m not listening yet.

Time after time, my critique partners tell me they feel like I’m holding back in my writing. And I am. I’m writing what I want people to like, what I think will be acceptable. That might not be the same as what I really want to write.

But there’s so much in me I don’t want to let anyone else see. I’m old enough to have plenty of saggy unacceptable bits, literally and metaphorically. If I let myself go in my writing, I’m afraid it would be so wild and crazy no-one but me would even understand it, let alone want to read it.

So what do I do?

Keep playing it safe?

Or do I need to close my eyes, take a deep breath, let the music get inside me and move my hips just a little. Then slowly, so slowly, peel my arms away from their protective grip on my body, open them wide, and dance?

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4 Responses to “Dancing naked”

  1. Eileen Says:

    Too true. I wasn’t talking about writing like you’re talking about writing in this post but I was talking about writing. Instead, with me, it seemed like as soon as I got comofrtable with what I was writing and how much time I needed to spend on it was when I was put in a situation where I need to prove myself desperately by succeeding at it — therefore doing it without excuses!

  2. waitingforthecall Says:

    I see what you mean.

    Life has a nasty way of pushing us to the next level and right out of our comfort zone before we’ve had enough time to even get accustomed to where we are, doesn’t it? Sounds like this is a big, scary and very exciting shove in the right direction from the Universe. You’re being pushed where you wanted to go eventually, right, but before you felt ready?

    But what it you never felt ready? My creative writing lecturer at college was a good teacher, and also a good writer. But by her late 40’s, she’d only had one short story published. She was stuck due to personal circumstances, and she needed the income from teaching full time in this little rural college, so she had little time to give to her writing. And after all those years, the dream had got dim and seemed unrealistic too. Maybe she thought she’d have time to write after she retired. But how different might her life have been if she’d gotten “the nudge” when she was doing her MA?

    This week sounds like the week from hell for you. But maybe you’ll look back and see this as the fork in road that made all the difference. What a wonderful opportunity to really go for it. Scary, because you have to prove that you can do it, exciting because I don’t believe this would have happened if you couldn’t.

  3. Eileen Says:

    That story of your lecturer is terrifying. I’m glad that she’s employed and still able to work with writing … but I’m afraid to end up in the same spot: spending so much time teaching to live that I end up living to teach not living to write. :/

    Hopefully this scary kick in the pants that’s just been delivered to me will keep me from the more terrifying situation you just mentioned.

  4. waitingforthecall Says:

    A kick in the bum always hurts but it can be a bloody good reminder of what we really want!


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