Tuesday, January 3, 2017
New Year's Resolution: Write What You Fear
For 2013, I posted a "Know Your Market" resolution. It was a good one. (Although I strongly suspect my market hasn't been born yet.) The following year I made a resolution to get more rejections than C. S. Lewis. (He got over 800; I clocked in at a measly 160.) Last year, I actually went ahead and made a publishing plan for myself, and for anyone else who might be listening. And I even got some stories published by following it.
This year, I am going to embark on unexplored territory. I mean that literally. This coming year I will face my deepest fear as a writer - not the daunting task of sending hundreds of queries, nor the overwhelming rejections, and not the sense of futility that comes with wondering if I am on the wrong track entirely.
In 2017, I am going to ditch all that and do something I have not yet done. I am going to write the thing I fear the most - a memoir.
To most people, writing a memoir may not evoke a feeling of mind-numbing terror. But to me, it does. I write children's fantasy. Even my adult stories conscientiously avoid anything personal. They almost religiously skirt things that might point directly to me, or to any of the difficult, often painful. emotions experienced by adults. I am a feverishly private person, and to go down those paths makes me quake with cowardice.
And yet, I find I must. I have had the (mis)fortune of having lived through a war, and that experience, with all its violence, pain, and loss, demands to be written in a time of national crisis.
Let me be clear; I really don't want to.
So, come with me. Let this be your year to confront the thing you don't want to write. Are you a non-fiction writer? Write a piece of fiction. Do you write speculative fiction? Write an essay. If you are frightened of writing a novel - do that. If you can't seem to conquer the short form, go ahead. Write a poem. Write a history book. Do anything you have never attempted. Because to try out new forms, new ideas, new media will only expand you.
Ta-Nehisi Coates got it right when he said, "The craft of writing is the art of thinking."
Go forth into 2017, and think.