The "Truth" is a 100% true story (well ... we are fiction writers) - from moral dilemmas and things we wish we could have done differently, to life-changing experiences and moments of hilarity. We end each post by delivering your "Dare" for the month. Respond to the dare in the comments, or share your own story on your blog to earn entries for our monthly drawing.
Every time I sit down to face a blank screen, a tiny surge of fear spikes through me.
What if I’ve forgotten how to do this? What if my wellspring of inspiration has run dry? Or, worse, what if that story I’ve been thinking about for months, the one that sounds so perfect in my head, the one I can picture from beginning to end like a shining, perfect arc of light, the one that could be my breakout story, a diamond in a coal mine, what if I cannot make it work? I’ll try to write, but the words will be soup on the page, nothing like the witty dialogue or vivid scenery in my head.
Then I start to write, and for a time, I forget about the fear. I immerse myself in the world I’m building, as the plot-train picks up speed. But when I reach the end, the fear rears its face once more.
The first draft has problems aplenty, yes, but it also contains energy. A unique, fun voice that I could only find by letting myself go and writing without thought for the consequences. Now I begin to worry that in fixing the structural issues and tweaking my characters, I will strangle that voice, crush that energy, wind up with a pointless, hopeless, voiceless morass of a story.
I power through the fear anyway, make it through that first rewrite, then countless more. I polish the story until it shines, and now, another fear. Time to send it to someone else. I hold my breath as my critique partners read. Bite my nails as my agent peruses it. Don’t even get me started on how nerve-wracking it is to imagine editors somewhere out there reading the unworthy drivel I’ve spat onto a page for them. How did I ever think I could do this? Neil Gaiman, Holly Black, Justine Larbalestier, Maureen Johnson, Maggie Stiefvater those are writers. I am an imposter. Did I honestly think I could dupe anyone into thinking otherwise?
Then I hear back. My critique partners didn’t hate it. They have suggestions, but overall they think it’s great. My agent has smart suggestions, but it’s far from dead and voiceless. Heck, I even hear from a magazine editor who wants to include a short story, a story I’d all but forgotten about, in his publication.
The fear is, temporarily, quelled.
I know it will be back. Every time I face a new page, a new revision, a new reader, I will feel a spike of it. But more importantly, I know now that I can conquer it.
Submit your work somewhere.
Send out one more query for that novel that's been lurking on your shelf, pitch an article to your local newspaper, find a flash fiction contest and submit an entry. There are hundreds of places where you can send your work. Magazines, websites, contests, agents, editors, newspapers, you name it, they all count. But at least once this month, submit your writing -- any kind of writing! -- somewhere. It can even just be a manuscript pitch on Twitter, or a submission to a ten word story contest. Anything!
That's your dare for the month.
Your double-dare is to let us know if you've submitted something. You don't have to tell us what you sent or where, but I believe it's inspiring to see other writers putting themselves out there. When my writing buddies send out a submission, it motivates me to work on a short story of my own to send out into the world.
Also, if you win any contests or get a story published anywhere, DEFINITELY let us know!
Finally, some good places to find calls for submission (by the way, a little secret: if you loved writing prompts in school, calls for submission are just like those!):
If you have any other suggestions for places to submit, let us know that in the comments too!
Happy submitting :)