Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Insecure Writers Support Group Post - Are we open and transparent in our writing? Or does fear rule us?

Hi my friends! 

Do you struggle to be open and transparent in your writing, or do you keep a firm lid on your emotions?

Are you scared of putting too much of yourself 'out there' in your writing?

Are you scared of making yourself vulnerable? 

If we shield our most private ideas, insights and feelings we run the risk of our work coming out bland.  If vulnerability and fear rule us, we are not present in our own writing to the fullest extent. The reader will tell.

I'm in the third edit of my Harlequin-esque novel. I'm at the stage where I'm examining the story to see if I've gone deeply enough, been true to myself, true to my characters. Have I thought outside the square? Have I been too comfortable, too blase in my words?

At this stage of editing, I've been reading a few 'how-to' books, especially  Donald Maas' new tome - 21st Century Writing. Maas always has great advice and is always about digging deep, then digging deeper, upping those stakes. He wants us to make our characters cry - make them suffer - make them vulnerable.

Am I too afraid to do this? There's a fine line between authenticity and vulnerability, but that is where the best writing happens, according to Maas.

But sometimes we're just too afraid. Fear of others' judgment stymies us.  
We can let too much of other's opinions influence our work--not discriminating between what's right and true for our book and what's coming from fear of displeasing another (we seem to think everyone knows better than we do) --will avoid writing about certain touchy subjects, diluting their chapters until nothing substantial remains.  

As hard as it is, we must allow ourselves to be vulnerable.

The more vulnerability we bring to the page, the more joy and authenticity it will have for us and our readers.  If we embrace this vulnerability, 
we will believe in ourselves more...eventually.  

I'll leave you with a quote from  David Bayles and Ted Orland's excellent little book, Art & Fear. 

"Fears about art-making fall into two families:  fears about yourself, and fears about your reception by others.  In a general way, fears about yourself prevent you from doing your best work, while fears about your reception by others prevent you from doing your own work." 

Click on the badge to read more posts from IWSG.

Take time to be joyful to me today, as today is the day my husband and I move house. 

My Max Brenner Hug-a-Mug of hot chocolate. 
  • If you'd like me to come visit you during the A-Z (I want to visit my friends once a week to catch up on their posts), please leave a comment. Makes it easier to comment on my phone when I'm in transit--which is where I do most of my blog commenting. 

All the best A - Zers!



Lynda R Young as Elle Cardy said...

Wonderful post. I'm in the middle of edits too and it really is a tough time for a writer--when we're questioning everything. Having the courage to be honest, is the hardest, but like you said, it's where the best writing lies as well.

Denise Covey said...

Yes, Lynda. Writing at our best is hard work! Taking risks hurts!

Dawn Embers said...

An excellent post. I haven't really thought too much about it but this is a great topic to consider as a writer. Fear doesn't stop me from writing certain things but it does affect who I let read it. My first finished draft came from NaNoWriMo 2008 and it was a gay male romance erotica novel. And I didn't think anything when I wrote the thing. However, I finished just over 50,000 and told people. My Dad asked me if he could read it. That's when I thought... oh crap. Not quite what I wanted him to read. He ended up not reading it but it's still something I deal with since I write the m/m romance/erotica part time and other times I write young adult. Have to consider my audiences.

Anyways it is a great post.

Denise Covey said...

I can understand you being torn with letting your father read that ms Dawn. I keep a lid on love scenes, not letting myself go too deep, as my daughters like to read my writing. Phew!

Annalisa Crawford said...

I put something of myself into all my characters, however small - I can't help it. People do eye me very warily after they've read my work though - there's a lot of angst in my writing that I don't share! Good luck with the edits!

Annalisa Crawford, One of April's IWSG Co-Hosts

Rachna Chhabria said...

Hi Denise, I sometimes feel I am putting too much of myself in my writing, sometimes I feel I am being guarded. Need to strike a balance.

Unknown said...

Wednesday April 3rd, 2013
Hi Denise,
My IWSG-post is up. I've got to run to the post office. I'll be back to read yours.

Nas said...

Hi Denise!

Hugs, I know exactly how you feel, but you need to let go and submit so you can get an editor's views on it!


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Good luck with the move!
I'm careful what I write, but it is all genuine.

Yolanda Renée said...

I've put a lot of me in my writing and it's why a negative response is so hurtful. But alligator skin, they say, is the solution -- still growing mine.

Thanks for the birthday wishes!

Remember, let someone else carry the heavy stuff.

Denise Covey said...

Ah,, who wants to be tough gotta be strong to lift all de stuff..:-)

Denise Covey said...

I know Nas but I still am not happy with it! Reeejjjeeeccctttiiiooonnn!

Unknown said...

Maas is a wise man with tons of great writing advice. Good luck with your move! I'm not doing the A to Z either, just wasn't in the cards for me this year. A lot of myself goes into my characters, and sometimes I think this is a disadvantage. I'm very guarded, which bleeds into my work. Definitely something to work on.

Carol Kilgore said...

Excellent post because it's so true. It's really hard to let our inner selves come out to play on the page.

Denise Covey said...

It is difficult for some of us to let go.

Denise Covey said...

It certainlycis Carol.

Elsie Amata said...

I am writing a book now with raw honesty. It's been a rough journey so far but I know the book will help people who've been through my same path in life. It has left me feeling very vulnerable and afraid at times.

Adura Ojo said...

Hope your move is as plain sailing as possible, Denise. The 'fear about art making' quote is sooo true...the words are ringing loudly in my ears. Lol. I think I've navigated the first family up to a point. I've learnt to express myself in a way that feels safe enough and yet remain true. The second family is a lil' trickier for me - I don't feel so comfortable with vulnerability that comes with placing myself in other people's hands. I'm ok with criticism, that's never a problem. It's a trust slash rejection thing, I think.

Hey Denise, hurry up - hit the send button with that MS of yours. We are waiting to read!

Kiru Taye said...

I came over thinking you were doing AtoZ so I could show some support. Well I totally understand if you're moving house. I'm not doing it either due to new baby.

But your post hit a note with me. Sometimes I worry that I will reveal too much of myself in my stories and try to detach myself. But that generally doesn't work too well.

Best wishes with the house move.

Denise Covey said...

All the best with new baby Kiru!

Denise Covey said...

So difficult at times. Ha ha you'll enjoy my novel more if it's the best i can make it. Thanks for your support.

Denise Covey said...

I hope you can see it through Elsie. Difficult.

Sarah Allen said...

The best stories are the most vulnerable ones, I think. Great post!

Sarah Allen
(From Sarah With Joy)

Elizabeth Varadan, Author said...

Great post, Denise, I know sometimes I don't go deep enough in my stories. I've been correcting that with my middle grade mystery, but it's taken me sooooo many rewrites to get there. Each rewrite shows me a new layer of what's possible. (Hopefully I'm on my last rewrite now.)

BTW: Thanks for commenting on my Victorian blog; how cool that your students are being immersed in the Victorian Era while they read Wilde's play.

Charmaine Clancy said...

You've got nothing to fear, I know your romance novel will be great. You're a real master at spinning a tale an structuring a story!

So exciting that you've moved into your new place! Looking forward to catching up properly at our writers group! :)