I had this grand idea I’d be done with revising my rough draft at the end of January. I had five chapters left. Five! The end was in sight! But I was stuck on one scene, one conversation, with two characters who were confused by events and trying to make sense of them. I realized, after two weeks of no progress, that my characters had a point. The events were confusing. In fact, the problem my characters seemed to realize when I didn’t was that my plot was the problem.
Cue a massive breakdown where I lamented over learning my plot had as many holes as a piece of Swiss cheese. I knew I could fix them once I calmed down. But to fix the problems, I would have to figure out what story I was trying to tell and rewrite most of the novel I’ve been working for nearly two years.
This novel I’ve been working on, it’s the first thing I’ve finished a rough draft on in five years. I had been unable to finish a story (after finishing one draft pretty much yearly since I was seventeen) prior to it. If this novel turned out to actually be a half-done mess, then I wanted to quit. Why even bother writing? I obviously can’t write, that’s why I have all these problems. I should quit and try to find meaning somewhere else in my life. Except, I didn’t see that happening either. When you wrap so much of your self-worth and identity into doing one thing, well, the thought of not having it, of being a failure, is one of the worst feelings in the world.
I’d like to say I had some lightening bolt of insight and jolted me out of my funk. I didn’t, not exactly, but I repeatedly the right things from the right people at the right time. In the end though, it came down to a simple choice. Do I take the easy way, the way my fears want me to go, or do I want to be brave?
I didn’t know it, but I was afraid to ask the questions that might force me to rewrite most of my novel. I was afraid to let this story be more than a fantastic adventure. I was afraid to touch on darker topics, to force my heroine to make the difficult choices. I’m not less afraid. I’m terrified of rewriting! Continuing with this novel is the scariest thing I’ve done in a long time.
But I’ve decided to be brave. Because bring brave doesn’t mean you’re not afraid. It just means you do whatever it is you think you can’t do despite the fear.