At some point, everyone falters. Our courage gives out, we doubt ourselves, our abilities and our dreams. And we need someone to step up for us. Maybe it’s to tell us the truth (with gentle words), speak for us, stand in the gap when the world is closing in or just to say ‘hang in there’. As writers more than ever it’s imperative to have a strong support base, because everyone and his dog has an opinion on your work and they’re prepared to put it out there for the whole world to see.
I have to admit my writing mojo took a bit of a bashing over the past few months. Progress was slow. I’d been working on a challenging transition (and working and working and rewriting…), and I was starting to doubt I was ever going to get it right. To make matters worse, I’d pinned my hopes on NaNoWriMo. Even if I didn’t hit their word count – I was relying on the payoff of writing every day for a month. Not just to push through the transition, but to reinforce to myself that I was in fact a real (read committed) writer.
So when life threw a curve ball and I wasn’t able to complete NaNo, I was more than a little bit thrown. I’d been through an emotional time, and when I thought of sifting through the NaNo output, I just couldn’t face it. I was terrified it had all been a waste of time and there wasn’t anything I would be able to use.
Now this wasn’t so much a pity party, as an ‘I-will-face-it-another-day’ sort of scenario. I didn’t tell anyone about it, hoping it would resolve itself, until my writing buddy asked me to bring something around to share. You know, something I was working on.
As I scrabbled around for anything she hadn’t already seen (because the worst thing you can say to another writer is ‘I haven’t written anything’) my gaze landed on the NaNo file all abandoned and gathering dust. So I took a deep breath, grabbed the unread draft and hoped for the best.
Surprisingly, it was pretty good.
My friend was engaged with the story, made lots of encouraging and interested noises and we had an amazing session discussing some of new characters she hadn’t met before. It certainly had first draft, NaNo issues – like the character referring to ‘the hated skirt’ four times in the chapter (it’s not half obvious when you read it back…), but it had heart. Good useable heart. As I talked with her I got excited about my story, realised I had made good inroads into the transition, and also rekindled some of that writing joy that had been sorely absent.
In the fantasy genre, our heroes generally can’t do it alone. There are always kindnesses, unexpected helpers and occasionally a great friend who will point out their faults or be loyal when everyone else gives up hope.
The Lord of the Rings wouldn’t have been the same without the Fellowship – as flawed as it was at times. Frodo never could have destroyed the ring, if Sam hadn’t been faithful to prop him up when he was failing. Gandalf sacrificed himself to save the others. The dwarves and the elves put aside their differences and even Boromir, who gave in to his own unheroic desires, was repentent and was able to give Aragorn his horn to built a bridge between their different peoples.
In C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia, Lucy, Edmund, Susan and Peter had a whole army of helpers and hopers working with them: Mr Tumnus, the Beavers, and of course Aslan. One who was willing to lay down his life for a boy who didn’t deserve it, and didn’t really know his savior at all.
In my own WIP there are lots of times when people come through. Some fail spectacularly, but more often the true hero is the one who sticks up for someone in the face of opposition. Chooses kindness over prejudice. Accepts failure and hopes for better. It’s the kind of thing I love to write – and to watch for in real life. There are a lot of small champions all about us if you care to look. Including my friend who is worth her weight in gold!
Has anyone been kind to you today? Do you have a friend who always champions you? Or a particular character / friendship that’s really appealed to you? I love to hear from you!