Today's guest post by Eve Marie Mont continues our "facing fear" series:
most fiction writers, creating stories is a passion, something they
would do whether or not they had any hope of being published. In fact,
when I reflect on my writing life so far, it’s those years before I was
published—when I was daydreaming about characters, building story arcs,
experimenting with language—that were the most rewarding for me. I think
it’s because that time truly belonged to me. It was my choice whether
to spend an hour of the day writing or seven. My choice to try my hand
at contemporary or magical realism, women’s fiction or young adult. I
felt like I was in a giant sandbox of imagination playing with dozens of
toys. And best of all, no one was watching.
Now that I’m
published and contracted for a sequel, those toys have become tools, and
that sandbox has become a workshop, one with glass windows through
which any number of people can peer in and pass judgment. And my time no
longer belongs to me. Now I’m in the business of creating a product,
and people are waiting on the sidelines to judge what I’ve created.
Somewhere along the line, I stopped playing because of those eyes on me,
because of the voices seeping through the windows telling me that what I
was making looked wonky and strange, that it was neither functional nor
And then those voices became so loud that I stopped
listening to the most important voice of all—my own—the one that was
trying to tell its next story.
So how do I find my voice again
when all those other voices are shouting at me? How do I find the joy in
writing when it feels like a job? How do I get myself back into the
A writer friend of mine recently told me that when she's
playing tennis, occasionally the ball hits her racket so soundly she
can feel the impact of it in her bones. The satisfying feeling travels
all through her body, telling her she's made perfect contact, that she's
hit the “sweet spot.”
When I told her how I'd been feeling
lately, she reminded me that when you’re writing freely and tapping into
that reservoir of imagination and possibility, you can find that “sweet
spot” in writing too, that place where you know instinctively that
you've hit on a truth, made a connection, done something well. If you
can somehow immerse yourself in the game and play like no one's
watching, the words will come pouring forth and it will feel like magic.
for anyone out there struggling like me to rediscover the joy of
writing, try to find that childlike place where fear and judgment don't
exist. Play in the sand for a while, and look for your story there. And
once you find it, write like no one's watching. If the words come from
that "sweet spot," they're bound to connect with someone.
Eve Marie Mont
writes books for young adults and teaches high school English and
creative writing in the Philadelphia suburbs. In her newest book, A
Touch of Scarlet, the heroine of A Breath of Eyre returns to find truth
and fiction merging through the pages of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s classic,
The Scarlet Letter.