Writing is a triple dog dare. Sometimes I think you can do it. At other times, that ground gets kind of shaky beneath my feet. I had the usual English teachers who thought I had potential. I also went down in flames the first time I let my father read my writing.
Later, I filled multiple composition books with short stories and a couple of novels before considering, even for a moment, letting anyone read them. The reason was simple—the twin fears of failure and appearing a fool. You may remember what Twain said about keeping one’s mouth shut.
I had read so many books, though. Lines from those stories had become a part of me. Writing seemed like the natural thing to do. I was confident I could do it too. On the verge of showing my writing an insidious thought would always creep into my head. What if I accepted the dare and ended up with Fire and Rescue coming to get me off the flagpole?
That bit of movie advice that says, “If you build it, they will come”. Yeah, that doesn’t work with writing. I knew that right from the start. I was never one of those who thought I had just written the latest, greatest bestseller. Hope may spring eternal, but reality has a way of tempering expectations.
I never try to be original. I’m a firm believer that there’s nothing new under the sun. If you render any story down to the bones, it’s been done before. The only thing I had to offer was my own voice. Well, that and a willingness to write what I liked even though it was considered passé and overdone.
Speaking of being out of fashion, my voice, if I let it have free reign, has the rhythm and word order of Jacobean prose (think King James I). It takes conscious effort and an editor to turn it into something understandable to most people.
So, in my odd voice I started writing werewolf stories. Still, no bestseller or NYT list. But somehow, against all the advice and the odds stacked against me, they do sell, and there are people who actually like them. Who knew? Not me that’s for sure.
I’ve found that you’re only a failure and a fool if you decline the dare. You just never know what you can do until you try.