The idea of fear preventing us, especially as writers, from accomplishing what we dream is not something that has often effected me. If anything is my downfall, it’s sheer laziness, but the tables have turned a little. I’m still struggling with the beginning of the reboot to Serpent in a Cage, standing at the threshold of starting the new approach, yet unable to cross it. It isn’t that I don’t know how to start it, because I do. I have a very clear idea in my head of starting with the world and then zooming in, to talk about the city we’re in, and then finally bringing us to focus on Locke in the middle of a theft. I think it works well for the beginning of a series, and brings the world more into it, too, which I feel was lacking in the original draft. But I can’t bring myself to write it. Why?
Fear. Doubt. Uncertainty. For some reason, as much as I like the approach and I think I can write it well, there’s just something not quite right about it. I feel almost as if it’s not good enough, that it’s too typical. I’m struggling because I think the idea came from the fact that I started a new Terry Pratchett book the other day, and he often starts his Discworld books by talking about the Disc floating through space on the back of the Great A’Tuin, supported by the four elephants. Is this idea of starting SiaC like this purely inspired by Pratchett? Or is going to have enough of me in it? Are people going to find description of our setting right away off-putting? A first chapter should draw the reader in, not bore them to tears. But why do I think it’ll be boring? I find it interesting; I plan on using an engaging tone that will hopefully draw the reader in, make them feel like they’re being lead somewhere far different from our old world by a knowledgeable and friendly guide…I think it could really work. I think it could be really good.
So what’s the problem? The fear of it not meeting my expectations for it. I don’t get this feeling very often, so it’s driving me nuts and I’ve been berating myself, telling myself to just buck up and write it. It’ snot like I can’t rewrite it later; I’ve been doing that with SiaC for years. So, today, that’s my goal. To just push myself over that lump of fear that it’s not right, that it’s not good enough, that [insert barrage of other excuses here]…I’m just going to do it, and I bet I’m going to be extremely glad I did. It won’t be a waste of time and effort; even if it doesn’t work, it’ll be a learning experience.
Are you an author who encounters this crippling fear and uncertainty often? What do you do to help yourself get past it? For me, I think a good cup of coffee, a nice kick in the pants, and a little bit of ranting about it on my blog does wonders. I’ve got all three right now, so we shall see.