If you haven’t read any of Robin (R.L.) LaFevers’ middle grade series (Nathaniel Fludd and Theodosia) or have not seen the above novel, Grave Mercy, then you are missing out on one of the best storytellers of our time (I’m an unabashed fan of Robin’s). She has amazing ideas, the ability to make those ideas come to life (what every one of us authors wish WE could do with such prowess) and yet, what many may not know is that Robin has not had everything fall into place just because she has many good ideas.
In a post recently on Writer Unboxed, Robin shares about her journey as a published author. In the title of the post, she tells us to beware all who enter here.
The thing is, once we have reached a certain mastery of craft, craft is no longer the issue. In order to take our writing to the next level we must embrace our strange, unique, and often embarrassing selves and write about the things that really matter to us. We need to be willing to peel our own layers back until we reach that tender, raw, voiceless place—the place where our crunchiest stories come from. We need to get some skin in the game. It should cost us something emotionally to tell our stories. But many of us who come to writing do so because they were voiceless at some point in their lives, so doing that can be the most terrifying risk of all.
Just as we must dance as if no one is watching, we must write as if no one is reading.
Sometimes the only way we can get to a place where we can do that is when everything else we’ve tried hasn’t worked, or has worked minimally. Years of encouraging “great writing but I’m just not passionate about it” type rejection letters. Languishing in the mid-list. Or having a career tank altogether. Sometimes, when you have nothing left to lose is when you finally have the courage to stop holding back.
I think this is so important for those of us learning about how to get ideas, what to do with those ideas, and how to make those ideas better. I think it relates to everyone who tries something that they are passionate about and then find that the results aren’t what they expected.
Ideas are given to everyone, even those who want to play it safe. Good ideas—those that can change the world—have to be given to someone with courage, stamina, the inability to give up (even if the first, second, third, even fourth iterations of that idea don’t quite work) and the ability TO GIVE UP when an idea that you have may be not the best thing to continue doing.
As Robin said,
“Sometimes, when you have nothing left to lose is when you finally have the courage to stop holding back.”