Thursday, November 29, 2012

on writing brave.

The month has flown by, and not much of it has been documented here. I'm becoming more and more okay with that fact, though I miss the interaction I used to find in the blog world. I haven't found a way to balance my "real life" with "blog life," but I'm trying. 

A few weeks ago, our little bookstore welcomed author Joshilyn Jackson through our doors, and I'd be remiss if I didn't post just a few thoughts from that day, what it meant to me not just as a bookseller, but as a grown-up girl who, when she was very little, wanted to be a writer. 

Joshilyn Jackson is perhaps, more than anything else, real. There is no pretense about her, which I realize -- despite a lack of interaction with very many other authors -- is rare. She spoke honestly and hysterically, and I am grateful for it. Seeing her in person was better than I could have imagined, and that's saying something. 

While speaking to the small group who came to the store that day, Joshilyn acknowledged inspiration for her writing comes from all sorts of sources: eavesdropping, conversations with friends, airport bars. But the number one piece of writing advice she gave? 

Be brave. 

Let your characters do what they're going to do. 

As a wannabe writer, I don't write a lot of fiction. Half-written novels and terrible short stories sit in my childhood desk in my parents' home; I'm scared to look through them for fear I won't know whether to laugh or cry. Too often I've started a story and been unable to finish. I don't know what the characters want to do or how to write an ending for what I've begun. So I quit. 

It's safer that way.

Joshilyn shared that for years, she wrote scared: scared of what her parents would think, of what her church would think. It hindered her writing, kept characters from doing what they were meant to do, and until a friend and editor told her to snap out of it, her writing suffered. Her characters suffered.

It broke my heart a little, that people -- both the known and the unknown in our lives -- can have such an impact, can prohibit us from writing what we so desperately need to say.

The funny thing is, for the most part, Joshilyn's fears were unfounded.

Her mother loves her books, parades them among friends and brags about her to family. Sure, there have been some naysayers -- church-goers who don't much care for cussing in their books, oy vey -- but for the most part? Her fears were imaginary.

I'm not a published writer, not in the way I want to be. But wouldn't it be lovely if I could learn now, while blogging for a tiny little audience that mostly includes friends and family, to write bravely? To not be afraid of the criticism or the fall out?

On more than one occasion, I've written a blog post I wasn't sure would be received well. Nine times out of 10, no one else seemed to care. Sure, I'm not Joshilyn Jackson-level, but the point is? Our insecurities are often just that: ours.

Besides, can you imagine a world in which we all wrote scared? In which we kept words to ourselves and left stories untold?

What a miserable, sad place a cautious world would be.

I'm much happier reading and writing in a world where mistakes are made, where words are chosen carefully but truthfully, where characters are real and honest and authentic and a little bit broken, just like the people I know and love outside of the pages of books. 


Melissa said...

(sorry if this is duplicate-dont' think my message was sent) May I encourage you to go ahead and write? Your grandfather would be thrilled, you know! Carl started a book in the 90's while having the video store - it was put aside and then this time last year, he pulled it out, edited many times, created a cover, and self-published. He's given away many many copies, sold only a handful to friends who refused to get it for free, and now he's stared the second book. I'm so proud of him and though his books wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea, most who have read it really like it. I agree with Joshilyn and feel you should just write - hopefully it won't take you over 15 years to finish the first one, but you will have done it. I look forward to reading more from & hugs!

mackieandryan said...

Love reading your writing! I would buy a book if you wrote one. And one of the main reasons I like it is - its real :)

mackieandryan said...

Love reading your writing! I would buy a book if you wrote one. And one of the main reasons I like it is - its real :)