September 13th, 2011

crossed heart

How to Write a Book in Six Months — Overcoming Fear

Originally published at Cassie Alexander. You can comment here or there.

So! It's still Monday for me, as I post this on Tuesday morning....

It's still Monday for me, because I didn't get up till 6 PM on Monday, because I was exhausted. The past three shifts at work were so, so tiring.

I didn't work at all on Shapeshifted, since last Thurs. I had ambitions for working on things on break at work, but those didn't happen, mostly because was so exhausted I was sleeping on break at work, and because I was scared.

See, on Thurs, I thought of a completely awesome through-line for Shapeshifted to have. Which'd mean going in on page 2 and putting it in, and threading it out through the entire book.

It felt awesome...but it also felt scary. Frightening as hell. Because if I put this thing in, and I find out it's the wrong thing, then all this work will be wasted, and I'll have to change the whole tenor of the book. I mean, i think I can pull it off, but what if I can't? That's always the rub. (Of everything. In life.) What if I screw up and I have to rewrite the whole damn book again?

I got up, procrastinated, and then set to and wrote 2500 words tonight, right up at the beginning where they needed to be. They feel good, for now. I'll just keep on keeping on. I wondered what I was so scared of for the past three days....and then it hits me. It was just like this past weekend at work.

I had this patient at work this past weekend who was homeless prior to his time with us. Being that I work nightshift...I go into people's rooms a lot at night. And every time I'd go into his room, he'd startle and stare angrily at me. (Homeless people frequently are, understandably, a little PTSD and jumpy.)

So this one time I go in, to draw blood for labs from the line on his neck. This time he doesn't wake up. I try to shake him to wake him up, no go. So I maneuver around him (of course he's sleeping on his lines) and start drawing out waste blood and think that he's going to wake up the entire time. I'll startle him, he'll startle me, and there'll be blood spatter on all the walls because of all the startlepation.

Hell, he might even hit me.

Or -- bite me. I'm like right under his jaw, manipulating his lines.

The room's dark, except for his monitor, so my imagination can run wild.

And then I realize that I'm fine -- because he doesn't have teeth.

The worst thing that can happen is blood spatter, and a gumming. I can live with that. And in the end, he didn't wake up at all.

So there's my metaphor for this week. My fear doesn't have any teeth. What's the worst that can happen? I rewrite a whole other book? I've already done that before. As long as I keep trying, it's all going to work out, honest, it is.

Being fearless is the only thing I've got going for me. (It's pretty much what made me say, "Of course I can do two books in a year!" on the phone.) It's gotten me this far into my career. This weekend was just a reminder to not stop now.