Last night we went out to Libba Bray's kick-off event for her tour in support of The Diviners (out now in all fine locations) at Joseph-Beth Booksellers (*blows kisses*). (Rest of schedule here, and definitely catch her if you can. I'll be at the final event in December at Oblong Books with Libba and Maureen Johnson, filling the riff-raff position.;-)
Every time I go to a book event, I'm reminded why I always vow to go to more. Not just because it's nice for the author if there are people there — though it is; I've been very lucky so far not to have a crickets event yet (I'm sure it will happen) and so grateful to every person there — but because there's often a moment when something that's said is just what I need to hear at any given moment as a writer.
I'm not and never will be making any claims at being some kind of expert on writing or anything just because I have now published a book. I still feel just as terrified (if not more so) and flummoxed and full of questions when I'm writing as I ever did. At one point last night someone asked a question, I think about advice for writers (but it might have been a different one) and Libba said read everything (YES, completely agree) and also, "Be brave." Paraphrasing, she talked about how a writer she admired said once that during the first draft we protect ourselves, and it's only in revision that we can go deeper, risk more. And that every book you write should change you, when you come out the other side.
Yes, yes, yes.
The book I'm revising, I see this all over it — the protecting myself in the first draft. Much of it comes from the fact that, as usual, I didn't know the character(s) well enough in the first draft to be true to them. For me, so much of the first draft is just beginning to figure out what the book is, and making many wrong turns along the way. This particular book, which I don't want to talk about too specifically yet (hopefully someday I'll be able too), is near and dear to my heart. It's a bit of a departure (first person, for one) and the main character is something of a daredevil. I've been kicking myself because while she was daring, even in the first draft, she was also not daring in places where she should be — that's a lot of what I'm working on in this revision. Because true daring? Requires vulnerability. Dropping shields, being open to injury, to falling, to failure… It requires caring enough to risk everything.
Just as being the kind of writer I want to be requires being brave enough to risk all that, too. Every time.
A reminder I needed to hear just when I needed to hear it.