Wednesday, February 10, 2010

it scares me

Every since I could read (and probably even before), I have wanted to be a writer of fiction.

And now that I have the opportunity, I am terrified.

My professional life helped me overcome a great deal of writing anxiety. When you have a writing deadline and you know that fifteen other people are going to comment and edit what you write, you learn to just put fingers to the keyboard and get the job done. This is a lesson it took me a long time to learn but I got there (more or less).

I enjoyed doing the kind of writing that I was able to do for advocacy organizations and labour unions but I seldom got to pick the subject of the pieces I wrote. I learned to write in the voice of the organization I represented or the person for whom I was writing a statement or speech. It was fun and I got to be reasonably good at it but keeping the writing at some distance helped me to overcome most of my anxiety. 

And the sheer volume of work meant that I frequently had little time for angst between cranking out one piece and then beginning the next.

This blog was the next step in my writing evolution. Beginning when I was first diagnosed with breast cancer and at my most vulnerable, there was little that I did not reveal here. Before long, I realized that my writing had changed, that the voice use is now my own.

Then I began to long to create something new, to make up stories in the way that I had as a child. I set this as my next goal.

And then I froze.

Participating in National Novel Writing Month was a breakthrough for me, as I took the short scenes I had written for a fiction course and the notes in my journal and cranked out 50,000 words in less than a month. I celebrated with champagne when I finished. The completion of this project marked a huge personal triumph.

But I have not looked at a single word of the manuscript since November 29th. Moving continuously forward was the key to getting through NaNoWriMo and I did not let myself re-read as I wrote. Then I permitted myself to take a break in December. Then January came and went. And now, we are well into February.

When I set my ten goals for this month, I included the task of reviewing my draft novel. Two days ago, I finally printed it. The pages fell out of the printer and onto the floor. I scooped them up and dropped them on the dining room table, where they remain, out of order and unread.

I'm off to Toronto tomorrow evening. I'm going to bring the document with me and on Sunday's train ride home, I'm going to start to read.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Is there anything that you really want to do that scares you?


Chris said...

Actually, what you're doing scares me. I'm so impressed by your taking on the novel-writing thing and for ramping up the courage to reread it. That does indeed scare me.

Capital Mom said...

I am scared to try writing fiction. And also too tired. I started writing a short story and then realized I am tired enough writing about myself, nevermind finding the energy to write about other people.

Finola said...

I am also the same as you. I started blog writing because when I tried to write fiction I would go completely blank. As the saying goes, write what you know, so I thought I would start with a blog. If I ever get comfortable writing my blog, then I hope one day to make a leap to fiction. But I'm scared that the ideas won't come and that the words will come out all wrong.

zoom said...

Same here. I'm afraid to write, and I'm exactly where you are with respect to the nanowrimo novel, except I haven't even printed mine out yet. I think the reason I'm afraid to throw myself into my writing is because if I fail, I'll have to give up the one dream that has accompanied me throughout my life. It has always been something I was going to do someday. It was always in the future.

The other thing I've always wanted to do, but am afraid to do, is move to another city and start over.

laurie said...

Chris - the idea of going on a solo canoe trip scares me, so we're even.

Capital Mom - When you have really little kids, you should just be awarded a medal for having clean clothes (something I frequently failed at), let alone maintaining a blog!

Finola and Zoom - thanks for the solidarity. Andyeah, I was just saying to someone today, I finally have this opportunity to write but what if I suck? What will the dream be then?

Dee said...

But, Laurie, you don't suck. You're a good writer. I haven't read your fiction, but you and the others will get there!