In Which Fear Is Incomplete

5 August 2004

I've been thinking about Karina's advice from James Patrick Kelly (whom I do not know, much less well enough to call Jim). She says: "One of the best things that I took away from Clarion was Jim Kelly's advice, 'Write what scares you.' This little phrase has been like a touchstone for me to come back to whenever I start to shy away from a particularly difficult story, whenever I become afraid of trying something totally new. It's advice that I've passed on to friends, with great success. In the things that frighten you are the greatest risks, the greatest truths, the greatest reward."

And I agree with Karina that you can find the greatest reward in the things that scare you, and further that you can't find the greatest truths if you're scared off them.

The thing is, it seems incomplete to me. It seems to only bring about a certain kind of writing for each writer. I think, "Write what you love" is at least as valid. Or, "Write what makes you passionate." Or, for God's sake, "Write what's fun." "Write what makes you bounce and chuckle with its deliciousness."

So no, don't refrain from writing something just because it scares you. That's not the way to go. But if I was to have a movement -- which I'm not, we already know I'm an Anti-Movementarian -- it might be the Fun Movement. I'm all for fun, and we have lots and lots of people going for very serious, very deep things, so I don't think we're in danger of losing that; and anyway, things can be very serious, very deep, and a lot of fun.

I still have no voice. SIGH. Also, my current advice for you is, do not attempt to drink water and cough simultaneously. Perhaps I'm wrong and some of you have this skill, but it doesn't seem the way to bet. Generally alternating the two will work, and in fact it passes the time rather well, as I have found out lately.

I've been doing other things to pass the time, too, of course, working on Sampo and reading, mostly. I finished Dragon Blood, which was fine. I read Nancy Kress's Nothing Human, which was a bit of a mess, as Kress books go. What I said (whispered) about it at dinner was, "It would have been better as a YA, if Nancy Kress could write YA." Shorter, tighter, and with a better young adult perspective. With maybe one character who had a reasonably well-drawn point-of-view and who mattered to me/the story in the slightest.

Anyway, anyway. After that I read Lin Carter's Flashing Swords! #1, punctuation not mine. Stella picked that one up for me at a library book sale for a lark, and it was indeed a lark. Four sword and sorcery pieces from the early 1970s, la la la. And now I'm about halfway through Nick's Move Under Ground, which is the cuddly, feel-good read of the summer. Okay, perhaps neither cuddly nor feel-good, but I'm enjoying it, tentacles and Beatniks and all.

And so, and so, and so. Still eating "easy" food, egg drop soup and applesauce and oatmeal and ice cream. Still taking rests ridiculously often. It would be nice to be an overachiever on this one and get better extra-fast. Not something one can achieve by trying extra-hard, though.

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