Life adventures, inspiration and insight; shared in articles, advice, personal chats and pictures.
I think of myself as a writer—not with conviction and joy, but reluctantly, as one accepts a difficult assignment from which she knows she will walk away bruised and maybe bloody. I love writing, but the glorious perfection I can imagine as I begin to create a novel is a false goal. It takes me into fear.
This week I read Living the Braveheart Life: Finding the Courage to Follow Your Heart by Randall Wallace, screenwriter for the award winning film BRAVEHEART. The narrative surprised me as Wallace took my hand and led me through the process he experienced when he poured his life, his likely ancient history, and his emotional journey into his film. I recommend the read to authors who aren’t afraid to couple the demands of writing with soul-wrenching questions of honor and faith.
As Wallace says, “The Stories we think of as great stories are the ones we retell…come from places of heartbreak and hope, despair and faith, fear and love.” Speaking from personal experience, I can affirm that when we writers dive into telling such stories, we change who we are. We challenge everything we know, use everything we have seen. I don’t know if anyone retells any of my stories, but I’m certain my stories originate in swirling spaces of light and darkness connected to all that I am.
One of Wallace’s personal tales touched me in my moment—as I prepare to release my second novel (The Woman Who Saw Souls). He tells of attending the family and friends opening for his magnificent film BRAVEHEART—a private showing before the film’s glitzy premier. As he watched the polished product of his painstaking preparation, he could suddenly see nothing but flaws. It was “…too long, too raw, too emotional”—altogether imperfect. When he began to explain its shortcomings to friends whose opinions he valued, they stopped him. They thought the product was fabulous. He had temporarily surrendered to fear.
Walllace’s elegant description of fear speaks to authors. We’re too ready to believe we aren’t enough—not smart enough, not talented enough, not experienced enough, not good enough. A part of our fear is real, and we’re foolish if we pretend it doesn’t exist. Perhaps most readers WON’T see the gem we thought we polished. Perhaps we WON’T be able to pay our bills. But the risk is one we must accept. We did what we could to share a story we thought was worth the trouble.
Wallace contends that fear will dissipate once we accept its presence and address Fear as follows: “I will be alert and as prepared as I can be to whatever dangers I may face. …I will not let you take over what I AM…” First, we create the best writing we can, using all the tools and inspiration we can muster. Whether or not a work finds its audience does not diminish the work. If it came from a need to express it, it was worthy of the birthing pains. It is a child that needed to be born. Next we send it out with love and hope, then move on. Life is process.