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"Writing Fearlessly" an Admirable Goal, but Probably a Myth

We're all works under construction
“Live fearlessly!” Sounds great, doesn’t it? Until you actually try living that way. Your common sense gets in the way—Well, I must be scared of some things, like driving too fast or stray dogs, right? Or you basically fear what living fearlessly might LOOK like: What will they think of me if I shake my ass in Zumba?

These kinds of debates have been playing themselves out in my head for the past year, as I’ve been working on my memoir. Can I "Write Fearlessly?" I felt great in the beginning. I’d discovered a way to work, a type of flexible outlining Brook Warner calls “scaffolding” that seemed to set me out in the right direction—yes, direction! I suddenly had one. Great! On to writing.

I knew the story. I mapped out the scenes. But, I suppose it is similar to the Cheryl Strayed’s Wild journey—we both knew we were a bit out of our element, but until we run splat into obstacles, we didn’t know how scary it would be.

There are some scenes that I feel make sense to be in the book. They reflect my themes, they prepare the reader for a life lesson (I hope). But when it comes to writing them, I either a) delay writing the scene because I convince myself I’m not ready emotionally or b) write the scene, quickly, plowing through and possibly leaving out important details or c) write the scene, am happy with it as a writer; but as a person I start imagine sharing it with other people, including those who were part of my life and didn’t ask to be a character in a book.

So, what should I do?

What I’ve been doing sometimes looks like this. I will stop in a middle of a paragraph or even a sentence and think—I can never publish this, why do I keep going?

Maybe I finish the sentence. Maybe I leave the room.

But I keep coming back.


Maybe a touch. But more, this: I am putting the cart before the horse.

Did I forget about shitty first drafts?

Did I forget about writing as a journey? As a tool for finding out what I’m really thinking?

I began to share my memoir in my writing group (which includes all writing genres, not only memoir) to get a sense of, well, if it is “worthy.” Their support doesn’t take away my fear, though. Only I can do that. It’s not happening yet, but until it does, I’m going to plow through and make it to the end of this rough draft, at least.

If I stop now, it’s like Cheryl giving up at the hard part of the trail. She wouldn’t have discovered her strength or helped heal her wounds curled up in a little ball under a tree somewhere.
If I stop now, the Unfinished Memoir will blister against my brain for the rest of my life, and that is even more uncomfortable than whatever harsh lesson I may discover about myself by the time I finish draft one.

And I can help the pain of that by editing.

I’m going to go ahead and publish this post NOW, before I lose my nerve or even edit for clarity. It’s the literary equivalent of ass-shaking like nobody’s watching, I suppose. That is as fearless as my public writing will get today.

Happy Writing.



Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Experience

The popularity of the Chicken Soup for the Soul books is beyond extraordinary. What started out as a multi- rejected book idea has turned into a multi-million dollar book empire. More than 110 million Chicken Soup for the Soul books have been sold. Many of the books have been translated to 40 different languages. I'm proud that my personal essays have been included in some of these books, and I hope to continue being a Chicken Soup contributor.
My Story
I thought I would share a bit about being published in these collections. I'm very happy with my Chicken Soup experiences, and part of that may be that I went into it with little expectations at first. I started with them because I had a few stories that seemed to fit what they were looking for, and I thought I had nothing to lose. Unlike some of the other markets and contests I was looking at, submitting to Chicken Soup could be done at no cost to me, and I didn't even need to worry about a postage stamp, because they had a…

All the Right Ingredients to Writing Advice

Last time, I talked about people in our lives that are pretty sure they know how to be successful writers, because they spent much of their time reading. Sometimes their advice can be a blessing, sometimes just the opposite. It is the same with the plethora of advice available from other writers. Have you checked out almost every book about the writing process from your local library at one time or another? Are your shelves lined with your own copies of "the-perfect-writing-advice-that-will-get-me-published-once-and-for-all"? Are you a member of multiple online writing communities? Do you hold your breath just a little bit when waiting from the critique from that "certain someone" in your writing group?

Yeah. Me too. And I don't think that gaining knowledge is a bad thing. We just have to be careful.

Don't Let Too Many Cooks Create a Recipe for Disaster
I love great food, I savor the tastes and textures of all kinds of cuisine; but unless I have specific, de…

Why Ghostwriting? Guest Post by Kelly James-Enger

Is it Time to Disappear?  Why I Became a Ghost--and Why you Should, Too
I never intended to become a ghostwriter. After all, why would I spend months of my life toiling away on someone else’s book? No thanks. I only wanted to write my own books, and that’s what I did.
I soon found, however, that the life of a book author wasn’t quite what I’d envisioned. I was working long hours, yet making less money than I had before, when I wrote only articles. The reason was simple—the time I spent promoting my books left me less time to write articles and other books, which cut into my income.
            Fortunately for me, I was approached by a nutrition expert about coauthoring her book. I found I enjoyed collaborating with her, but the real payoff came when we finished the manuscript. As the author, she now had to start promoting it—but I was all done!
That was enough for me. I decided to pursue coauthoring and ghostwriting, and “my” next book was ghostwritten for a client. (Typically a “coau…