Here’s a chance for you all to meet an author friend of mine. Haley is a history buff who writes great novels circa Civil War era. Why? Because she loves history and has found a way to make it an adventure for all of us.
But that’s not what she’s posting about. Today’s post has to do with the wonderful craft of writing. But I’ll let her tell you about that herself. So Haley, tell them what you told me.
Are You Nervous About Your Work? That’s Good.
By Haley Whitehall
Are you nervous about your work? Do you have niggling doubts as you write? Do these doubts continue as you edit? Are you worried that your characters are relatable? Are you worried what readers are going to think?
That’s good! That means you care. That means you are striving to do your best.
Jane Friedman wrote an article about Placing Too Much Importance on Passion. The problem about the word “passion” is that is hard to define. When someone says they have passion, what do they mean? Jane Friedman likes the word commitment. According to her, a writer needs to be committed to his work and the best kind of commitment (which is often hard to find) is coupled with passion.
Siddhartha Herdegen’s definition of passion: Passion is a deep connection to an idea, a strong bond which creates a feeling of desire. It contains elements of both commitment and excitement but is not limited to them.
While I agree with this, I would like to add another necessary word: nervousness.
If you are committed to your work, you will be nervous that you had done the best work possible. These concerns will push you to work harder. These concerns will drive you to justify your decisions.
If you are not nervous about your work, are you writing too safely? Are you writing with comfortable clichéd words and sentences? Is there no controversy that could be caused by your work? Are you not pushing the bounds of your abilities?
I am very nervous about my debut historical fiction novel Living Half Free (and very proud of it!) Why am I nervous? I have a unique writing style; will it be accepted by my readers? My story is “out of the box” and does not fit the mainstream historical genre; will people even buy the book? I’ve had agents tell me it was too different. Can a story be too different? Will I be called a racist? Stranger things have happened, and writing about the antebellum south can be a dangerous tightrope to walk.
While I am nervous about all these things, I believe in my story. I know I have done my best work possible. I will continue taking writing classes and pushing myself to improve, but Living Half Free is ready for the world. A writer puts himself/herself out there when they publish a book. Sometimes the criticism is hard to take, but I do not let it get me down. I know it is an often used saying, but I believe it to be the truth, a writer is their own worst critic. No one can take a harsher view of my writing than me. That strong nervousness drives me to make another editing pass when I am already sick of my characters.
Are you nervous about your work?
Want to know more about Living Half Free? Here is the blurb:
When Zachariah, a naïve mulatto slave, is sold to a
slave trader, and separated from his ma and sister, he realizes the true meaning of not having rights. Singled out for abuse by his new master’s sadistic son, he dreams of only one thing: escape. He thinks he’s found it when he falls in love with a Cherokee woman from a powerful family, under whose direction he learns to pass as white. But it’s not long before he discovers that freedom that’s based on a lie will only get him so far. While struggling to find his place in the world, he also wrestles within his heart to realize his faith. This faith is tested when his slave past catches up with him, and threatens everyone he cares for. He must decide whether slavery is the price he’s willing to pay for his family’s freedom. Kentucky
HALEY WHITEHALL has a B.A in history and has been studying the Civil War era since the 5th grade. Her writing style is Mark Twain with a little more faith. She likes to write out of the box stories that feature an underdog. LIVING HALF FREE is her debut novel. Released February 29, the ebook can be found at Amazon, B&N, and Smashwords. Find out more about Haley through her website or connect with her on Twitter @HaleyWhitehall or Facebook.