woe! an incomplete dragon
- 5,300 words (if poetry, lines) long
Sometimes, with this blog, you get woo. Sometimes you get excerpts from my dream journal, complete with possible interpretations. Sometimes you get lucid dreams, astral projection, magic, witchcraft, spirituality, religion.
And sometimes you get conversations with imaginary people.
Re-reading Havi's post on avoidance yesterday led to rereading also the post by Emma Newman that inspired it and then Havi's post about sitting down and having a friendly chat with your fears. There are other ways to deal with fear than facing them down, as it turns out, and I'm getting a lot out of them now.
Emma's post was about finding sufficient courage to be her own hero. Which put me in mind of the classic Knight in Shining Armor facing down a Dragon. So I started thinking of my story, the one whose revision I've been avoiding, as a dragon. Big. Big, scary dragon. Rugged scale and sharp claws and teeth the size of mammoth tusks. DRAGON, blocking the road.
It's the story itself that's the dragon, and the road it's blocking is THE ROAD TO WRITERLY SUCCESS. It's that important to me. If I don't pass it (revise and resubmit the story), I lose as an author.
Wait, you might say. That's all-or-nothing thinking, there. A career is bigger than one story. What if you just, well, go around the dragon? You could work on a different story, progress toward WRITERLY SUCCESS along a different road.
But the problem with that is, what if the next time I have a story on the brink of possible publication, needing only a rewrite to make an editor fall in love with it... I give up on that too? THERE ARE OTHER DRAGONS OUT THERE. It would be one thing if this were just not the story to work on right now... but right now the possibility we're courting is most definitely "I never finish anything because I get scared and run away."
It's down to habits, right? And skills. And patterns. Finishing and submitting stories is a skill I want to get better at, a habit I want to foment, and a pattern I want to establish.
Anyway. My story is a DRAGON blocking my road and I am a HEROIC KNIGHT challenging it!
But I don't want to slay my story!
But the dragon... wants me to slay it? "Finish me off," it's saying, "Finish me off!"
But, no, I misheard. What the dragon is actually saying is, "Finish me up! Finish me up!"
So I look closer at the dragon. And its nose is missing. And its internal furnace lacks necessary components. And its wings are crooked! And it's so very, very afraid that it will never be a finished dragon who can soar and breathe fire.
The dragon needs a hero, y'all. That's what I found out last night when I took my ten minutes or so to sit with my avoidance. The unfinished dragon needs a hero who can make it complete. I'm going to be its hero, y'all. That's what I'm gonna do.
This morning there were more discoveries, because I had that chat with my fear I was meaning to have. It went something like this:
ME: So, hey there, fear. You're here, aren't you? I can be OK with that. What are you afraid of?
FEAR: (Huddling in a corner, the picture of misery) I'm afraid that you'll take one look at your story and find out it's a terrible story. And you'll be ashamed of yourself for writing it.
MY UNSPOKEN REACTION: Well... that's silly, isn't it? I mean, an editor looked at that story and said, "There is much to love here." Then that editor took personal, precious time to do a rough edit on it, just to show me how she imagines it could be made it better.
ME: OK, I respect that fear. It's scary stuff. Let me ask you this: What if you're right? What if looking at my story did make me ashamed of myself? What then?
FEAR: (Huddled tighter in abject terror) It... it doesn't bear thinking about.
MY UNSPOKEN REACTION: Well, dammit, that's not helpful. Think about it anyway! No, that's mean and aggressive and hostile, and the poor thing's clearly terrified....
ME: What do you need to feel safe enough to think about it it?
FEAR: (No answer, just more misery)
ME: Here's what I think will happen if I become ashamed of myself as a writer: I might stop writing. Which is indeed awful! But... how is that different from what's happening now? By paralyzing me with fear, you're creating the awful outcome that you're trying to avoid. That isn't very helpful, is it?
FEAR: (Silent. Miserable. Maybe a little shamefaced.)
ME: Honey, I appreciate that you're trying to keep me safe. I really do! But I need to be able to write, so, fair warning, I'm going to work on my story today. But here's what I will do: First, before I even think about rewriting it, I will read it through as is, beginning to end, looking for all the reasons I have to feel proud of that story. Your timely warning that SHAME might be lurking right around the corner has enabled me to dodge that hell out of that jerk and keep writing. Seriously, thank you!
FEAR: (Still silent, still huddled, but maybe there's a hint of a smile going on in there. It's nice to feel listened to. It's nice to feel like you've been of help.)
All of the above was actually kind of surprising. I didn't know the dragon was going to have no nose. I didn't know what FEAR was going to say. But I guess it's not too different from day-to-day writer-brain. I mean, when I'm freewriting or writing rough draft, half the time I don't know what I'll be writing three sentences from now. It shouldn't be so surprising that when I create a character called FEAR and I invent a conversation with her, she says things I didn't know she was going to say.
Anyway, I still need to do what I promised FEAR that I'd do. It's late, I've been out to Brighton (which is an hour away), I skated for two hours at the very edge of my endurance then two hours more just for fun--but I think I can manage to read myself a story before bedtime.