How Fear Drove Me From “Finishing” a Novel

Creating a world from nothing means eventually we have to show it to someone.

How we deal with their comments and whether we understand how they’re trying to help us is all on us.

One year ago, I had my cousin go over one of my stories. It’s a novel and I love the story, but having someone critique it, well, I guess I wasn’t ready for it.

I’ve thought about that story more recently.

The red sand, dancing pictures and who each character is have come to mean something to me and after a year of stops and starts on other stories, it’s time.

Each story is different for every writer, this one left me wanting to write more. I wanted to walk with them, discuss what they were doing and hear them ask, “Why’d you abandon us?”

My only answer, “Fear, I feared going back. Putting you on a table and cutting bits and pieces from who I thought you were and the thought of changing you, well, it scared the shit out of me.”

“But, we were supposed to go places, see things?”

“It’s only temporary. I’m ready to do the work, now that the writing is done it’s time to cut in, take things away and create something worthy of how I see you.”

“Okay, if that’s what you need to do. We’re ready too.”

This conversation may or may not have happened, the point is that a story we create, characters we live with for months and people we learn to love, sometimes we have to kill our darlings.

Killing them, gutting them and distributing who they are around the story, to make it better, that’s why I write.

The hardest part of writing is the killing, gutting and making the story into a cohesive piece of work, rather than an amalgam of what we think it should be.

The story, its characters, what their role is and how each puzzle piece fits into the story, that’s the important stuff, that is what makes us finish something and send it off.

I forgot that and now that I’ve had my discussion with the story, I’m ready to do the work, clean it up and send it off.


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