Writer’s Craft #109 Finding Your Courage
Many of you know Canadian author and editor Julie E. Czerneda as the former biologist turned science fiction novelist published by DAW Books NY. You may have read her Clan Chronicles series, or be a fan of Mac or Esen from her other work. Maybe you’ve heard she’s an editor. Also true. This spring, however, prepare to meet the Julie you don’t know. After three years of (scary) work, she’s letting out her whimsical side with the release of her first fantasy novel, A Turn of Light. The setting, Marrowdell, is based on pioneer settlements in Ontario. There are toads. And dragons. The magic? All her own. For more about Julie’s work, including the chance to read Turn in installments, please visit www.czerneda.com.
It’s an honour to be asked to contribute to Clarion. While I’ve never been a participant, I know many writers who have. They speak highly of the experience. I think highly of them for seeking it out, for being committed to the craft and for being brave. Like you.
Brave? Oh yes. I’ve written before about a writer’s courage. It takes vast amounts to lock our dreams and fantasies into a string of words to be handed to strangers who will — how we hope!– unlock them into their own. When that courage fails us, the work becomes more than difficult, it can seem impossible. Talking to a trusted someone can help, but we’re often alone. What to do?
When I feel mine slipping, the first trick I use is to step away. Literally. I garden or go for a walk. I stay out of my office however long it takes to regain perspective and settle myself. Fifteen minutes. A weekend. It’s worth the time invested.
Which isn’t a trick I can use at 2 am when my sleepless mind spirals down that scary path of “what am I doing” “wouldn’t a salary be nice” and “this is crap.” What then?
I remind myself why. Each story has something special in it. A character. A relationship. A moment or place. Something I love so much it hurts. Instead of being afraid I can’t do it justice with words, I lie there and just enjoy it as it is, in my head. Forget the process. Dream.
It makes me braver, every time.