Welcome to today's edition of "When Blogfests Collide!"
Today we have Arlee Bird's A to Z Challenge joining up with Alex J. Cavanaugh's brainchild the Insecure Writers Support Group. It's like a Perfect Storm of blogfests. I imagine most people like me, who are participating in both blogfests, will attempt to combine the two into one super blogfest post. Or maybe you came up with a much smarter approach. But I didn't. Which means my topic today needs to be writing related but will also be brought to us by the letter D.
And right now you might be looking at the title of this post and asking yourself what in the world a schoolyard dare has with writing. Well, I'll tell you...
The very first drafts of most of my stories are rather... PG-13, I guess, for a lack of anything better to call it— because I never used to be brave enough to write what actually needed to be written. I tend to write dark stories where bad things (both emotional and physical) happen to my main characters. And sometimes I need to ease into the darkness, work into it, peel it back a layer at a time— like it's an onion or something— in order to get to the real substance of a scene.
One of the most classic examples of this are sex scenes. Not that my sex scenes are particularly dark (all the time anyway. Just some of the time...). But my first pass at a sex scene used to be very tame. If it were a movie, the scene would play out with the two who are the two giving each other a meaningful glance or maybe a kiss on the lips before the camera pulls away and focuses instead on the lacy gently wafting curtains. The biggest reason for this is that I used to be a big fat chicken. I didn't want to write racy scenes because I was afraid of what people would think of me. People like my mother or my friends or my mother's friends. The people I work with (well, some of the people I work with. I don't care what most of them think of me). The people my significant other works with. And so on and so forth.
Sometimes you end up thinking something like "I don't want so-and-so (insert appropriate figure here) knowing that I think that way!"
So I always took the coward's way out until I was given the book Wild Mind: Living The Writers' Life by Natalie Goldberg. I can't find the exact page now (and I have spent entirely too much time thumbing through my copy looking for it) but within that book was a section that spoke to this problem. It urges the reader to write the scenes that need to be written. It urges the reader to forget about what judgments all those pesky people out there could make because if you're writing a book based on what people could think, you're doing yourself— and your story— a major disservice.
That's a poor paraphrase and I hope it makes sense to you but how ever Ms. Goldberg worded it, it made perfect sense to me and ever since then, I have always endeavored to write the book as it needs to be written. I have always endeavored to be brave. To be daring. To let the story be as dark (or as racy) as it needs to be.
So, if you've ever experienced this dilemma (desperately hoping I'm not alone here...), head on into the breach and write the scary stuff.
Go ahead. Do it.
I double dog dare you.