I have critique partners at school, so I e-mailed them about my schlock of a submission for this month. They wrote me back with lots of encouragement to shuck the fear. I got an e-mail from a crit partner from last term, who reminded me of what I told him a few months ago about giving yourself permission to let loose in your writing. And then I continued to write schlock, pine, and whine. Until I found a quote in Swain's Techniques of the Selling Writer.
The greatest talent in writing is nerve: You bet your ego that your unconscious has something in it beside dinner.The free association neurons in my brain zipped over to a comment one of my professors - Dr. Mike Arnzen - made during a workshop at the last residency. You're writers, he told us. You are obligated to stretch your creativity.
Tonight, all those free association neurons went into overdrive, and I realized that my crit partners, my professor, and Dwight Swain have given me the key to get over this hump. I must be fearless. Be creative. Be fearless in my creativity because it's my job. How else can I hope to entertain readers if I'm not willing to stretch the bounds of fiction*? What good is a writer who isn't willing to set aside reservation and plunge into the deep black pool of Story? How can I hope to make my readers sit up straight, gasp, cry, laugh, or get up to turn on all the lights in the house if I insist on staying in the shallows?
It's time to let go of the reservations. If I dive too deep and get lost in the dark, I've got that magical delete button to rescue me. But if I hit on something amazing in those depths, won't it have been worth the exploration?
* Within reason, of course, according to the laws of the universe and the motivations of the characters in the story.