Fear

I’ve been trying to post more regularly, which means I have to come up with things to talk about. Shortly I hope to start talking about my publishing experience again, but for now I’m trying to get blog ideas from publishing news. I was all set to write this week’s post in response to the Orson Scott Card issue – I even made notes so that I could dictate it when I had time, but then I started to have second thoughts. Is it because I don’t feel like joining the political argument? And if that’s the case, am I avoiding politics just because it’s out of scope for a writer’s (generally) informational website, or because I don’t feel like calling down the inevitable crapstorm that follows political discussion? Am I worried about alienating readers? Am I worried about being called on the carpet for my opinions and putting my foot in it as I attempt to defend them? In short – am I just afraid?

This makes me wonder about fear in a broader sense, the fear that affects all creative artists. My author friend Jamie Wyman recently did a post on this subject: the need for writers to “be vulnerable and be unabashedly human and real within our stories to lend them a visceral truth that is recognizable by the reader.” That sounds mighty scary, doesn’t it? Being all vulnerable like that? People are going to SEE stuff about us. That could be all embarrassing!

Having been away from active publishing for so long, I’m at risk of forgetting what that spark of fear is like. When my first book was in production, I started to get nervous. There’s some grim stuff in that book. All of it is necessary to tell the story I wanted to tell, and that’s why it’s in there, but I started to imagine some relative or other reading it and I got deeply embarrassed. I was almost ready to call my editor and tell her we had major changes to make before the manuscript got through copyediting. But I got over it. I had to read and learn from the example of other books – Kushiel’s Dart, to be specific, my various connections to which would take up a couple more blog posts – where the author took big chances, went out on a limb and risked all kinds of embarrassment, to fully and authentically tell the story she wanted to tell. After reading it I knew that those troubling and important scenes in my book had to stay. I had to be vulnerable and real and brave.

And I will have to do the same thing again. One of the manuscripts I’m trying to publish makes the damaged characters in my grim trilogy look like Boy Scouts. I have to get back to it soon and give it a good editing job, and I’m sure that fear will come back. But I think my desire to tell the story authentically will also come back. That’s what authors do.

As for my politics, you can probably get a sense of them from my books. That’s also what authors do.

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