Sunday, June 1, 2014

The fear of writing - actual effects may differ

I don't know about other writers, but for me the act of writing is fuelled by fear - which makes it an oddly masochistic pastime.

I've talked elsewhere about the the mild anxiety that I feel every morning when I start to write. Depending on what I'm doing, the feeling either falls away when I get started or stays with me. It's more likely to hang around if I'm tussling to understand a character motivation or finesse a plot point.

Quite simply, it's the fear of writing. Let's face it, there are a lot of things to be fearful about when you're putting together a story. Can you make it hang together? Will it make sense? Will it be 'good'? It takes a long time to write a novel. Well, it does for me. And even if I manage to create something that doesn't fall apart and actually entertains, there's no guarantee that anyone is going to read it (other than my significant other), let alone actually like it. With all the investment of time it takes, that is one scary prospect.

But reflecting on that 'normal' level of anxiety I experience, it's also very helpful. It makes me work harder. I know I'm experiencing this feeling because there's something not right about what I have down on paper: either because it's not finished or I've made a misstep, skipped over something I need to focus on, or taken a wrong turn. As long as I'm worried, I know there's work to be done. It's not 'finished'. And as long as I'm worried I know that - even if it's not front of mind - my subconscious will be fretting away at whatever it is until I have a solution.

Currently, I'm expanding out the storyline of my secondary protagonist in the Kresh books. I'm in uncharted territory, working out motivations, interactions and 'linchpin' points to help me turn my characters and set them on new (and necessary) courses. It's scaring me a lot, because of all the work I've already put into this thing. If I can't make this piece work, the whole novel will suffer. The stakes are high. The fear is just as high. But I think I'm edging closer to the resolution, one worried step at a time.
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