Sunday, October 31, 2010

Facing Our Fears

Happy Halloween, readers!

'Tis the season for carving pumpkins, eating massive amounts of candy, an scary each other silly. In keeping with this particular holiday spirit, I thought I'd write a little bit about my fears.

Does anyone else experience any crippling, soul-crushing fears about their writing? I'm sure the answer is "yes." After all, we are creative people. We have vivid imaginations. And this is a good thing... usually. But when it comes to our innermost fears? Not so much.

I've recently come to the conclusion that I'm not afraid of failure with my writing. Nope. I'm afraid of success. It might sound weird, but I know I'm not alone in this. I'm afraid that if I finish one book, I'll never have another good idea. I'm afraid that it will get published... but that no one will buy it. I'm afraid that I'll blow a book contract because I can't discipline myself to write on a schedule. I'm afraid that writing will become my full-time job... and then I won't love it anymore. I'm afraid that I'll spend my writing time missing teaching. I'm afraid that I won't have health insurance anymore. I'm afraid that my income will lessen. I'm afraid that I'll be a mid-lister forever. I'm afraid that I won't be very good at being a novelist. I'm afraid that I'll become a New York Times bestseller, but then I'll try to take my career in another direction and my fans will hate me. I'm afraid I'll be sued by ex-boyfriends and ex-bosses I put in to books. I'm afraid that I'll never be able to get what's in my head out onto the page (it never quite translates, does it?) I'm afraid that my books will never be made into movies. I'm afraid Hollywood will make terrible movie versions of my books. I'm afraid that I've been inadvertently cruel and/or unprofessional, and hideous stories about my evildoing will come to light as soon as I'm published.

Weird and stupid, I know (because, really, I should be so lucky). But there it is.

Does anyone else have extreme writing fears? What are they? How do you get over them and/or push through them?

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Islands of Possibility

Inspiration can come when you least expect it. I’m traveling at the moment, and whenever I tell people what I do for a living, they always want to know if I’m on a research trip. I say no, but the truth is that when you’re a writer every trip is a research trip… even a trip to the grocery store.

I didn’t come to Fiji with the intention of setting a book there or learning about the culture so I could integrate some Fijian characteristics into my next hero. (Though the fire dancers? Definite hero material!) But I wasn’t here long before story ideas began popping into my head. How can they not when I’m surrounded by natural beauty and over a hundred uninhabited islands right on the border between civilization and the primal?

No, I didn’t come here for research or inspiration, but how can you help being inspired by the unwritten potential on those islands?

It’s better than a writing prompt. Anything could have happened on those islands. Anything could happen yet. A murder mystery? A secret paranormal society? Gilligan’s Island the Sequel? Which direction would you go if you were spinning stories about those islands of possibility?

(For more on my travels, you can visit my blog at

Friday, October 22, 2010

Where Have I Been?

Kate's been remarkably restrained and didn't hassle me about skipping my blogging week. Thank you! Where have I been since I last showed up here? I'm at the podium, moderating the Editor & Agent Panel at the Emerald City Writers' Conference.
Check out Barbara Vey's blog Beyond Her Book at Publisher's Weekly (you have to go back to October 2d through 5th to see both photos in their original context). She visited the our conference and gave our Sunday keynote - an amazing story about how romance novels transformed her from an agoraphobic, depressed shut-in to the globe-trotting reporter she is today.

Most of the 250 conference attendees are aspiring (me), or published (Amanda Forester and Susanna Fraser) or best-selling (Cherry Adair and Brenda Novak) writers. We read a lot, but most of us write more. Since I started writing seriously, I've read less and read differently. More targeted, more analytical. I can't silence my inner editor or my awareness of "the industry" as I read. Barbara captured the difference at one point in her speech. As a reader, she heard someone was from PW and nodded uh-huh, and kept talking. And writers and agents stared open-mouthed ... Publisher's Weekly ... Writers think differently from readers.

Barbara Vey is a reader who devours romance, and who isn't embarrassed or ashamed to say it, say it loud, and say it to anyone who will listen. I needed to hear her. She made me spend a week reading whole-heartedly again like I used to. It felt great! Thank you, Barbara Vey! (Here I am with the rest of the ECWC Committee - in the green sweater, front row. )

Wednesday, October 06, 2010

Daring... and Winning?

Recently, I've been rereading Bob Mayer's absolutely fabulous book, Who Dares Wins: The Green Beret Way to Conquer Fear and Succeed. If you don't already own this book, do yourself a favor and get your hands on a copy!

Right now, I'm focusing on the goal section of Mayer's book. It gives the common sense (but newsflash for me) advice that we have to set up our goals in conjunction with one another. If you're not looking at the total picture, you may create conflicts. In short, you're setting yourself up to fail.

So... my efforts to work my day job 60 hours a week, write 5 pages a day, exercise regularly, feed my husband gourmet meals each night, and engage fully with my family and friends on a regular basis?

Yeah, not so much.

I've been sabotaging myself. I knowingly overload myself and then wallow in the guilt when I can't accomplish everything. It's no good. I need to change! I want to be able to enjoy my life... savoring moments, not hanging on by one stray fingernail! I also want to put my dreams (including writing) first, instead of saving them for a later that never comes. (Why is it we spend so much of our time on "have tos" instead of "want tos"?)

I'm looking forward to setting more reasonable goals, via Mayer's methods. I'll be sharing those in a later post (or perhaps in the comments section of this one).

But if you have something that works for you, or you'd like to share your own goal/to-do list, please don't hesitate to share! I'd love to have some company on the road to a more balanced life.