I listened to an interview recently with New York Times best-selling author Caroline Leavitt (“Pictures of You” is her most recent award-winner) and was struck by something she said toward the end of the show. She was talking about how important it is to know the rules but not be so bound by them that you can’t move forward.
“Be brave,” she said.
Caroline seems to be a most gentle soul, but it was as though she’d reached through the speakers and slapped me.
Be brave. Her words made me realize that the reason I’ve been practically immobilized in my efforts to get my current manuscript done is… fear. Fear that this sophomore effort will be, well, sophomoric. Fear that my agent will hate it, fear that my editor will be disappointed, fear that the publishing company that took a chance on me will regret that decision. Fear that my first readers, my wife and kids, will hand the manuscript back to me with sad, nice-try eyes. Call it one-hit wonder fear. Flash-in-the-pan fear.
Be brave. What I heard was, “Shut everything else out. Focus solely on writing the best story you possibly can. Have the guts to write what you want… and the cajones to finish the job.”