Nobody said it was easy.
No one ever said it would be this hard.
—Coldplay, The Scientist
The first week’s writing exercised are finished. It has been an overwhelming and occasionally excruciating week, but a good one.
For most of my life I have tried not to feel what I was feeling, but instead to figure out what a normal person would feel and try to force myself to feel that. So for a lot of this week, I couldn’t just write. I had to think. How did I like that house? What was the best thing that ever happened to me? Why was I afraid of that man at church?
So I faced some fears this week, after years of telling myself not to fear what I fear. It’s not normal; it’s not allowed. Normal people don’t fear small talk; neither should I. Normal people enjoy making new friends; so should I. Normal people can talk about themselves for hours; sorry, that’s where I’ll have to draw the line.
It’s exhausting talking about myself. But I see the value. Getting acquainted with myself, being willing to explore what I really think and feel, can benefit my writing. In fact, it’s essential.
I can’t write the story I think someone else would write. I can’t tell my characters what “normal” people would do. I have to be honest with myself before my characters can honestly be themselves. They’re going to do and say some things I don’t like, and I need to let them. I must stop telling myself (and them) what should be, and start accepting what is.
I have a new appreciation for the extraordinary amount of courage it takes to write a story. I’m so grateful for authors brave enough to squeeze out every last drop of truth from their own souls. When they open up like that, even just to themselves, they set their characters at ease, enabling them to come close and share their stories, to be honest, unafraid, and real.
Of course it’s hard;
That’s what makes it great.
—A League of Their Own