Saturday, May 22, 2010
The Look Over the Edge
I saw it in a West Wing epidsode actually.
Butch and Sundance are looking over the ravine at what must be a 300-foot drop into the river. They have to jump because they people chasing them want to shoot them full of holes. Sundance tells Butch, "I can't swim." Sundance looks at him incredulous: "Are you crazy? The fall will probably kill you."
As writers, we can get so worried about what someone might think (read: agent/editor) that we totally lose sight of what it means to write without fear. And, yes, I'm talking primarily to myself here.
A book blogger I like to read undertook a year-long project to read a book a day and review it. She not only accomplished her massive undertaking, but she is writing a book about the experience. http://www.readallday.org/tolstoypurplechair.html.
She said that when one does SO much reading every single day, writers who write without fear become immediately apparent. On the other hand, when a writer does not take chances, or, worse, manipulates his reader, such tactics become obvious. She claims that her favorite books that year came from the group of fearless writers.
As one with a healthy reading life, but not nearly at the level of a book a day, I find this observation profound. Can readers feel the fear evident in a writer? I'm beginning to think so. My last novel had fear interlaced like fishing line through nearly every sentence. That book failed for that reason, I believe. Now, anyway.
Yeah, I suppose the fall could kill us, and I suppose I might not be able to swim, but like Sundance, I should jump anyway. They did.