Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Writing Scared: The Best Way Out Is Always Through

with guest Brandy Vallance.

 I remember being shocked when a random stranger told me that she’d read my first book. As she began telling me about her experience turning the pages of The Covered Deep, I was stunned. Was it really possible that I had affected someone for the good? Had I really brightened someone’s life? Don’t we dream about this? When it happens it’s very surreal. After sixteen years on this writing journey, I’m here to tell you that it’s a battle getting to that point. Every. Single. Time. 

I’ve come to believe that being a writer is a long exercise in confronting and conquering fear. I am convinced that the writers who make an impact are the ones who keep fighting. Sometimes this is as simple as allowing yourself to hope. 

I’ve come up against many versions of this nemesis—self doubt, discouragement, rejection, the fear of not being good enough, the fear of bad reviews, the fear of not being able to write, the fear of writing a scene that revealed too much of myself. This list goes on and on. If you’re a writer, I’m sure you’re well acquainted. 

I’ve been so paralyzed by fear that I couldn’t open my manuscript. I’ve been so overcome with self doubt that I’ve procrastinated in ridiculous ways. This happens to us all. A friend of mine was recently on deadline and she sent me a Facebook message: “Why is this hard? Every. Single. Time.” My reply: “Because it’s important. You are being transformed by your writing so your readers can be transformed. That is never easy.” Someone remind me of this when I’m in the trenches again. 

Ernest Hemingway’s famous quote comes to mind: “There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein.” That, my friends, takes some bravery. I don’t think it ever gets easier, but I have learned how to take a deep breath and adjust my thinking. 

When something you’re writing scares you, that’s good. You’re on the right track. What you really want is to throw yourself into a right proper panic. That means you’re touching something deep in your soul. You’re writing true. Neil Gaiman says this: 

“The moment that you feel, quite possibly, you are walking down the street naked, exposing too much of your heart and your mind, and what exists on the inside, showing too much of yourself . . . That is the moment you might be starting to get it right.” 
That kind of writing will always affect your readers. Press in. Go deeper. Explore more. 

 What questions are you afraid to ask? Ask them. What subjects do you want to explore but avoid? Write about that. Find your deepest truth. You have to be brave enough to go into that valley, cut through the overgrown path, and shine a light for others to follow. This will be powerful writing. 

In my second novel, Within the Veil, I purposely went toward subjects that scared me. Consequently, I experienced a lot of fear in the weeks leading up to the book’s release. That’s a good thing. I have learned to use fear as a gauge. It means that I showed up on the page. I’m not speaking autobiographically but emotionally. I plunged deep. If you are in this place, take a deep breath, smile, and enjoy the ride. 

In this journey of battling fear, celebrate everything—even the bad reviews. At least that person took the time out of their day to sit at the computer and throw some words up on Amazon. What you don’t want are readers who are indifferent to your work. You want to incite a passionate response—either way. You want to make the reader feel. That is your job. Remember that certain books are for specific seasons. You can’t write a book that will resonate with everyone. 

I’ve recently been reading a lot of Brené Brown work. She speaks a lot on vulnerability, courage, and fear. If you haven’t listened to her Ted Talk or YouTube videos, you really need to! Here’s one of her favorite quotes by Theodore Roosevelt: 

“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.” 

Don’t quit. Don’t ever, ever quit. If writing is deep down in your soul it’s there for a reason. Hold onto hope. The world so desperately needs light. The world needs your story. You are important and your words matter. Maybe you’re in the trenches right now. Keep slogging through that mud. Keep learning. Keep smiling. Keep fighting. Remember that everything important is a battle. So get your metaphorical armor on and fight. Word by word. Page by page. Book by book. I think writers are the bravest and most brilliant of souls. I’m so proud to be numbered among your ranks. 

Write scared, dear ones. And remember what Robert Frost said: “The best way out is always through.” Let’s go get some ink.

If you're a writer, share  your experiences with writing scared. If you're a reader, share which books really touched your fears in a positive way.

Brandy is generously giving away a copy of her brand new release, Within the Veil to one commenter. Winner's choice of print or ebook. Winner announced in the Weekend Edition.

Brandy Vallance fell in love with the Victorian time period at a young age, loving the customs, manners, and especially the intricate rules of love. Since time travel is theoretically impossible, she lives in the nineteenth century vicariously through her novels. Unaccountable amounts of black tea have fueled this ambition. Brandy's love of tea can only be paralleled by her love of Masterpiece Theater Classics, deep conversations, and a good book. Brandy is the 2013 Operation First Novel winner and the 2012 winner of the ACFW Genesis Contest for historical romance. Her critically acclaimed novel, The Covered Deep, has been featured in USA TODAY and Writer's Digest. You can connect with Brandy via her website, Facebook, Goodreads, Pinterest, YouTube, or Twitter @BrandyVallance. 

They never should have met. But they might be made for each other.

Feya Broon, a Scottish half-gypsy, knows what it is to go hungry. Trapped in the Edinburgh tenements with a father lost to his past and only the faded memory of her mother’s faith, Feya is desperate to provide for her siblings. When an ill-conceived plan leads to thievery, she finds herself in the last place she'd ever want to be—captured by a palace guard. But there's something about this man that tears at every preconceived notion she's even had about the haughty English.

Alasdair Cairncross never dreamed he’d be forced to transport a gypsy woman halfway across the wilds of Scotland. The timing is disastrous, considering his fiancée’s imminent arrival and his father’s political goals. Not only that, but the fiery young woman threatens to lay bare secrets Alasdair would rather keep hidden. And yet the farther they travel together, the less concerned he finds himself with duty—both to the crown and to the plans his family has for him.

As their walls begin to crumble, Feya and Alasdair must fight to survive a decades-old feud, a Highland kidnapping, and the awakening of their own hearts.



Tammy Trail said...

Wow! Amazing post. My greatest hope, a well written story. Thank you for your encouragement!

Dawn Ford said...

"You are being transformed by your writing so your readers can be transformed." Powerful and insightful. We writers are an insecure bunch to begin with. Then add that to the top, and you do have a recipe for being down-right, heels melting to the pavement, terrifying. Great encouragement! Thanks for posting!!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome back to Seekerville, Brandy. Your post so resonated with me. I had to read it over several times to truly appreciate it.

And I was writing through the fear when I read it.

Your new release has an absolutely gorgeous cover, btw.

Tina Radcliffe said...

And a late night hi to Tammy and Dawn.

We have cheesecake bites and tea for the late nighters.

Elaine Stock said...

Brandy, your words were a true inspiration, says me who is diving into another story with no safety valves.

Jill Weatherholt said...

Welcome, Brandy! I can relate so relate to your words.Theodore Roosevelt's quote is one of my favorites too. Years ago, I had an artist write the quote in calligraphy, then I had it professionally framed. It's an inspiration to me each day. Writing through our fears is one of the greatest challenges we face.

Mary Preston said...

I'm not really one for fears. I have been touched many times by words I have read though.

Jackie said...

Hi Brandy,

It's good to meet you and congratulations on your new release. I appreciate your encouraging words this morning. Thanks for the reminder how much power there can be in the written word. Have a great day!

Cate Nolan said...

Good morning, Brandy. Thank you! I was walking along yesterday morning, contemplating a new story I'm beginning (and a new series to boot), and thinking I must be NUTS!

Scared was exactly how I was feeling. Not quite terrified, but that sick in the pit of your stomach nervous.

But then an amazing thing happened. I sat down on the subway, took out my iPod and began typing. I forgot about the fear because I was in love with the story - or at least my vague first impressions of it.

The fear will be back, but I shall remember your words and Fight on!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

What a marvelous post! Brandy, thank you so much for being here.

A Scottish half-gypsy....


What a fun concept!

I brought coffee and tea and there's a tray of Panera Danish on the patio, it's too nice to sit inside!

Cate Nolan, I can totally see you doing that on the subway! Isn't that like crazy revitalizing??????

Good for you!

kaybee said...

Thank you, BRANDY. I'm in a real slump right now and battling a lot of demons (the main one being, "Why even bother?") I got a couple of contest scoresheets that were more critical than I've seen for a while (like every other sentence) and I've been putting off dealing with them. I did sit down and read one last night and it wasn't as hard as I thought so there's hope. I'm going to address ALL THREE scoresheets this week, that is my goal, I'll let you know in Weekend Edition if I made it through. They're good judges and they're right about a lot of it, I'm just at a low ebb all over and it hit me the wrong way.
Yes, I'm afraid, and the longer I do this, the more afraid I am. This is a huge responsibility. But what else is there to do?
Thank you Brandy.

kaybee said...

BRANDY, I love black tea too. Earl Grey in a china cup.

Lara (Storm) Hitchcock said...

This is something I need to read at least every month. Thank you, Brandy, for taking the time to encourage us and open up about your own struggles. Your book sounds really interesting. I just added it to my goodreads reading list. Never give up, friends!

Cindy Regnier said...

This post is a keeper. I guess I write scared a lot - or dont write because I'm scared. It sounds cliche but my best writing happens when I "write like no one is going to read it." Thanks for your encouragement, Brandy.

Tracey Hagwood said...

Hi Brandy,
You new book sounds really interesting and what an absolutely stunning cover. I'll definitely be reading this one.

I've always loved that Robert Frost quote. Whenever hard things have come up I'd remember that and move forward. There's that transforming power of the written word.

Glynna Kaye said...

Good morning, BRANDY! Yes, writing through the fear is quite familiar--in two places especially for me:

1) when I'm working on a proposal, digging deep for a new story and characters who will come alive on the page to an editor, agent and readers.

2) when I'm in that muddled middle when, in my weariness, the story doesn't seem quite so shiny bright as I'd envisioned it.

But I've learned to prayerfully soldier on. And each time those moments of nagging "fear" push me to write stronger and better. I know I should embrace the fear for that very reason--but book after book I continue to try to figure out ways to outrun it! :)

Janet Ferguson said...

Perfect timing for this great article. I'm editing/proofing the book that I didn't want to write, but felt called to write, for release in August. I'm scared how many readers will feel, but I know there are readers that need it. Thank you! Your book sounds fascinating!

Brandy Vallance said...

Thanks so much for your kind words, everyone! I'm so excited to be on Seekerville today and to meet all of you!

Caryl Kane said...

Hello BRANDY! Thank you for this encouraging post. I have been reading through Lynn Austin's The Restoration Chronicles. These stories remind me of the Lord's faithfulness.

CONGRATULATIONS on your release of Within the Veil!

Please put me in the draw for a print copy.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Hi Brandy and welcome to Seekerville. What an interesting article and point of view about writing. I think you're right about the fear factor. It always terrifies me when a friend reads one of my books. Like they'll find out some secret about me. LOL

Thanks for sharing with us and have a fun day.

Sandra Leesmith said...

Oh Tina I'll take one of the cheesecake bites. Hmmmm maybe two. Thanks

Tina Radcliffe said...

Elaine Stock! Good to see you here this morning!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Jill! Good morning. What a great idea to frame that quote.

Brandy Vallance said...

Hi, Dawn! So glad you enjoyed the post. :-)

Brandy Vallance said...

Thank you, Tammy! I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. :-)

Brandy Vallance said...

Yay! I'm so glad to be here today, Tina! I love the new cover too. ❤️

Brandy Vallance said...

I missed the tea and cheesecake! I am happy that I got some sleep last night, though. The night before last I only slept an hour. It's hard to sleep the night before a book launch!

Brandy Vallance said...

Yay! Dive in, Elaine! Spread your arms open wide and just let go. I love your wording "another story with no safety valves." Awesome!

Brandy Vallance said...

I love that you had that quote framed! I'd love to see a picture of that. :-)

Brandy Vallance said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Brandy Vallance said...

Thank you, Jackie! I hope you have a good day as well. :-)

Brandy Vallance said...

I LOVE this! Yes, I know that feeling. It does indeed mean that you have something there. Make sure you turn your inner editor and your inner critic off during this raw time of writing. Have fun! It's going to be grand.

Janet Dean said...

BRANDY, welcome to Seekerville. Thank you for this post! Especially for: Why is writing hard. Every. Single. Time. Because it's important. Wow, that's encouraging. I'm always afraid the story won't be good enough. Won't matter. This suggests that truth will rise to the top like cream, enriching our stories.

I'm really struggling with the story I'm writing now. I can't seem to slip my feet into the heroine's shoes. So I'm stumbling along afraid I will fail my vision, the call the story has on me. I'm helped by your nudge to "Press in. Go deeper. Explore." Any tips on how to explore? Are you referring to digging within? Or researching the issues and impact of the character's struggles?


Brandy Vallance said...

Oh good! I'll definitely have some Panera Danish! I'm drinking a nice strong cup of English black tea right now. And yes, I had so much fun writing about Scottish Gypsies. ❤️

Brandy Vallance said...

Hi KB! I know exactly what you're feeling. I've been there. "Why bother" is a common sentiment with writers I've found. This is also something that needs to be pushed through. But be gentle with yourself during this time. Soul care is vital when we are feeling this way. You are important and your words matter! ❤️

Brandy Vallance said...

Yay! I love Earl Grey!

Brandy Vallance said...

Thanks so much, Lara! ❤️

Brandy Vallance said...

Hi, Mary! Thanks so much for commenting. Hope you have a great day and hope you read more awesome words that touch you deeply! ❤️

Brandy Vallance said...

Thanks Cindi! And me too! I purposefully have to write like no one is going to read it, especially that first draft.

Tina Radcliffe said...

Okay, I want to know how you get those hearts there. You are talented!!! :)

Brandy Vallance said...

Hi Tracey! I hope you enjoy Within the Veil. I've done that too with Robert Frost's quote! Sometimes I've repeated it over and over when going through something difficult. Blessings!

Brandy Vallance said...

Yes yes yes! I can relate.

Brandy Vallance said...

Awesome! Thank you, Janet.

Brandy Vallance said...

Hi Caryl! Nice to see you here. :-)

Brandy Vallance said...

Hi Sandra! Thank you!

Bettie said...

Thank for your words of encouragement. I needed them this morning as I plod through some edits and try to build up courage to enter something in a contest for the first time.

Missy Tippens said...

Welcome, Brandy! Such a great post, and something I really needed to hear at the moment. Thank you!

Edwina said...

WOW. Brandy, you hit the nail on the head! I've never put words to how I feel when I'm writing. Now I know - I'm scared. Actually, I'm terrified. And I'm sure I've asked the same questions everyone else has asked themselves: what if my book bombs? what if I can't even get it to a publisher? what if...what if...what if...

So thank you 100 times over for your encouragement. It was needed desperately and appreciated greatly!


Brandy Vallance said...

Hi Janet! I go through that feeling too--that the story won't be good enough or I can't make it as perfect as I want it to be. I am indeed referring to digging within--asking your deepest questions and exploring your deepest truths. And also heightening the character's struggles, obstacles, goals, etc. I find that things can always be heightened. I attended a Donald Maass workshop where he was talking about this. He asked us to heighten a scene and go beyond where we were comfortable. Then he said, "Now, heighten it again."

Brandy Vallance said...

It's the smiley icon on my iPhone by the 123. All sorts of lovely things. 🌷🐲🐬🐋🐠🔥❄️🌝🎉💥👑🛀⛄️🎩

Brandy Vallance said...

You are so very welcome! Glad it helps. ❤️

Brandy Vallance said...

Hi Missy! Glad you enjoyed the post! ❤️

Brandy Vallance said...

Thank you Bettie! ❤️ So glad you enjoyed the post.

Susan Anne Mason said...

Hi Brandy,
Congrats on your new release! Loved your first book!
This post resonated with me too. Because for me the editorial letter requesting BIG changes to my story strikes me with terror! Paralyzes me for weeks sometimes! (This time I don't have the luxury of weeks!)
Somehow deconstructing what you've already done is SO hard. Much harder than starting from scratch.
So yeah, FEAR! I just keep reminding myself: You did it before, you can do it again!
Thanks for sharing. This is a hard job, but an awesome one!!

Vince said...

Hi Brandy:

As a fan of philosophy, I find the subject of fear to be fascinating! Your post is refreshingly thought provoking.

Your wrote:

"I’ve come to believe that being a writer is a long exercise in confronting and conquering fear."

To which I would add that it could equally be said that:

" I’ve come to believe that being a human being is a long exercise in confronting and conquering fear."

I am also a big fan of Robert Frost who never gave up on rhyming poetry. To his quote:

“The best way out is always through.”

I'd like add this:

"The road less travelled will always have more unknown dangers discouraging the discovery of life's hidden treasures."

Some early morning thoughts:

Ambition is fueled by fear with adrenalin acting as the handmaiden.

It's fear that sells rollercoaster tickets.

Fear, I fear not; it's the loss of fear that is to be feared.

What do you think?

Are there writers who are 'fear' junkies?
Must these writers walk on the very edge of a precipice to prime their creative pumps and motivate their muses?

Take Ruth: first book is about a loved one dying in hospice care; another story is about an unwed mother heroine in the 1940's; and then there is a heroine with breast cancer who falls in love with a hero whose wife recently died of breast cancer. Like my old copywriting boss was fond of saying: "If it was easy to do, anyone could do it."

Do writers create their own stumping blocks in order to provide the stepping stones to success?

Again, I think the loss of fear is the unkindest cut of all!

"Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not." Jeremiah 33:3

The question then is, given this promise, will we allow the fear of the unknown to make cowards of us all?

Have courage, writers!

BTW: one of my favorite time periods to read about in fiction is 1870 to 1898. Your book dates of 1877 and 1885 are just perfect.

One more thing: we are often advised here on Seekerville not to write prologues. Did you get any resistance from your editor for your prologue to "Within the Veil"?

Please place me in your drawing!


Brandy Vallance said...

Hi, Sue! When I received my edits on this book I couldn't open my WORD document for a week. I understand. It is a hard job but an awesome one. :-)

Brandy Vallance said...

Hi, Vince! I'm also a fan of philosophy. I love all of your added quotes and I agree. Readers come to our pages to feel so if we don't feel through the process how can they?

I do believe that I am becoming a fear junkie when I write. It's my gauge for sure. If it doesn't scare me I know I haven't done my job. That's usually my prompt to go back over what I have written and examine it. It might not start that way for me. Usually I just know that I want to write a story about X (Gypsies and an English palace guard). Then, as I get to the subsequent drafts, other things are uncovered. I do the "what if" thing. If I hit on a what if that particularly scares me, I know that's the right track.

As far as creating stumping blocks...hmmm. That's an interesting question. In a manner of speaking I do. I write to discover my deepest truths. So, there is a fundamental question that I have to find the answer to. The funny thing is that I might not know that I'm doing this at the time. Often I look back and I will pick up themes and whatnot and then I realize what my subconscious was doing. Isn't writing fascinating?

"I think the loss of fear is the unkindest cut of all!" How poignant! I love that.

Jeremiah 33:3 has been one of my favorite verses for a very long time. I definitely think that God calls us into very scary things on the page so we can be transformed.

Ah! A fellow late Victorian time period lover. Perfect!

For this particular book, the prologue was actually suggested by the editor because of the way the antagonist is placed throughout the story. It was just a way to tie everything in and give readers a sense of the political climate. I do think they are effective in certain books. I can understand why many are against them, though. A lot of writers might use them as info dumps or useless backstory.

I so enjoyed your comments!

Tina Radcliffe said...

THE iPhone!! WELL DUH!! I never thought of doing it that way. lolololol

Tina Radcliffe said...

So for the record...Pantser or Plotter?

Desk writer or wandering scribe?

What are you currently working on?

Brandy Vallance said...

Panster or plotter: Both! I start out doing some pretty in depth character sketches and then I have some "basic" markers for scenes I know I want to have. Then, during the writing the panster kicks in. The characters take over and I love that. I love being surprised by them. Alasdair has a secret I discovered along the way and I didn't know I was going to be writing about Gypsies until Feya's father started talking about caravans in chapter one.

Pretty much a desk writer. I do like to get away for the character sketching, though.

I have a first draft of a novella I'm going to go back to soon. It's a time travel romance. It starts out in Victorian London and then goes back to 16th century England. Somewhat different from what I have written thus far. I wanted to take a stab at more mystery so I took it on because I knew it would be a challenge for me and I wanted to stretch myself. :-)

Janet Dean said...

BRANDY, I love Maass. And especially this point you shared. I will try heightening the scene until I'm uncomfortable, then heighten it again. No wonder writing is draining!

I'm on my desk top but if I were on my iPhone I'd add clapping hands.


Lynda E. said...

Wow. A powerful post. Thank you for the encouragement that can apply to every area of life: everything important is a battle. And thanks for the giveaway, too. Danandlyndaedwards (at) msn (dot) com.

ohiohomeschool said...

I love the quote you posted by Theodore Roosevelt. It is one of my favorites that hung on my refrigerator for a long time.

Hmm. My current favorite book that touched on fear of God's sovereignty was Mundane Faithfulness. Not fiction, but the story of Kara and her battle with cancer. Coming out of things believing God's will for your life is right.

Becky B.

Trixi said...

I can already tell you are an exquisite writer, Brandy just by the fact that you write what's most passionate to you...even through the fear! You are very brave in my book (no pun intended) :-) There is a famous John Wayne quote similar to this; “Courage is being scared to death, but saddling up anyway.” God sometimes calls us to do things we'd rather not (on many, many occasions). That alone can strike fear in our hearts, but if one thing I've learned personally, if God brings you to it, He'll bring you through it (another quote)! He's ALWAYS there; through the valleys, through the darkness ,through the storms and through our fear. He's holding our hand, guiding us, walking besides us! All He asks, is to be obedient to His calling in our lives. And sometimes that means doing it scared!

As a reader, I love books that touch me in deep spiritual ways so I come away from a story changed. One particular one is Francine Rivers "Redeeming Love". God used her as an author to speak directly to something in my life at that time to set me free of a bondage I had been under for a long time! WOW...Aaamazzzing!! There have been hundreds more books since then that have touched me much in the same way. I admire authors who can hard-hit life's challenges with God's grace & mercy, and aren't afraid to do so. I WANT to be challenged as a reader to be transformed in my walk with the Lord. I know several other readers who are just like me. You just never know how God will speak to an individual through your book, so I'd encourage you to write the words He's put in your heart! And lastly, Seekerville is touching on "facing our fears" this year, so your post today is very appropriate :-) Keep on keeping on, Brandy, blessings to you!

Please add my name to the pot for Brandy's book, thank you!!

P.S. It's SO good to be back in Seekerville!! I had the most wonderful time with my mom & step-dad for the month of June. I wished they didn't live halfway across the world so I could visit. Good times though, great memories to cherish always! Looking forward to participating in each days posts!

Myra Johnson said...

Brandy, it's a pleasure to have you join us in Seekerville today with this inspiring post! Whether it's fear of rejection by an editor or agent, fear of bad reviews, fear of offending a reader, or fear of what facing certain topics will stir up inside ourselves, it's way too easy sometimes to let fear hold us back from tackling difficult or painful subjects in our writing.

Janet Dean said...

TRIXI, welcome back! Glad you had a great time visiting your family!


Tina Radcliffe said...

Glad to have you back, Trixi!

And you picked a great day.

Doesn't Brandy's book sound wonderful?

Tina Radcliffe said...

Brandy, your novella sounds really fascinating. Isn't it fun to work on a closet project. No rules!!

Debby Giusti said...

Brandy, welcome to Seekerville!

Loved your post. So thoughtful. Fear was my writing companion for some years. Finally, I had to give it all to God. If he wants me to fail, I will. If not, things will come together in his perfect time. Not that I still don't have moments of deep concern. Especially when I wake in the middle of the night!

I'm working on a new project and am heading in a somewhat different direction than my previous stories. It's been a challenge. Thankfully in prayer this morning, an answer came about a plot point that's been a struggle since I first started this current WIP. Love when the Lord provides...and he always does. Although sometimes he's not as timely as I would like. :)

Debby Giusti said...

You've inspired me to dig deeper into my story. Thank you!

Mary Connealy said...

And author friend of mine, Victoria Alexander said once in a speech, "Every book you write gets harder. If it doesn't, you're doing it wrong."

I find that comforting because it seems like...well, I don't know about HARDER...but it sure never gets easy!

Mary Connealy said...

Great post, Brandy. I love this!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Amen. Every once in a while there is an easy though to lure me into thinking they will all be...then SLAM! The next one kills me.

Brandy Vallance said...

Thanks, Lynda E!

ohiohomeschool: So glad you enjoyed the post. I haven't heard of that book. I'll have to check it out.

Trixi: Wow! I loved reading your comments. Redeeming Love is a favorite of mine too. I love that you want to be challenged as a reader and be transformed. I know I do! Your words are an encouragement to me!

Myra Johnson: Yes! All those things! Thanks for the kind words.

Brandy Vallance said...

Tina: Yes! I love having complete freedom to play. :-)

Debby Guisti: I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. Enjoy going deeper in your story. So happy that you received a breakthrough in your plot!

Mary Connealy: "Every book you write gets harder. If it doesn't, you're doing it wrong." Wow. I LOVE that! I'm going to write that down and post it in my office as a reminder.

Jenny Snow said...

This is a great post, Brandy! Your book sounds wonderful! (And I also loved reading your comment about your writing process.) So glad I found this online community!

Rhonda Starnes said...

Thank you for such a thoughtful post, Brandy. I really needed to read this today. I've been struggling lately with my writing. I'm in the midst of revisions that are making me crazy. For the past two years, I've been so close to getting published, but I just keep missing the mark. The other day, while working on these revisions for what seems like the hundredth time, I actually wondered if it was time to give up on my dream. Fortunately for me, I have great writing friends who are not afraid to put on their pointy cowboy boots and give me a swift kick when needed, so I'm still trudging along the path to publication. Don't know how many more hills and valleys I have to travel through, but that's okay because I'm enjoying the scenery.

Megan Brummer said...

Brandy, this is brilliant! You touched something deep and real with this post. Just the other day I finished a short story, and it took me a couple of days before I let anyone look at it. Finally, I let my husband read it and whole time I was frantic. "What if he thinks I'm morbid? What if he thinks I have a martyr complex? What if he didn't realize my imagination could work like this?"

You know what he said? "Wow, Meg. That was amazing. I cried." And he's not the crying type...


I LOVE the fear gauge - if I'm afraid to write it (and especially to have someone else read it) maybe I'm on the right track! The opposite is also true - if there's not any fear, nothing personal, nothing vulnerable, then maybe it's not the story I need to tell.

And congrats on the new release! I can't wait to read "Within the Veil"! I added it to my wishlist on Amazon so that I can get a copy if I don't win the giveaway :)

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome to Seekerville, Jenny Snow!!

Rachael Koppendrayer said...

The writing part isn't so frightening for me--it's the response, the critique, the suggestions. Even knowing that they'll make the story better, there's something paralyzing about it that I'd rather put it in a folder and never look at it again. Which is rather impractical on a whole lot of levels.

On a different subject, wow, that cover is magical.

Jeanne Takenaka said...

Brandy, what a powerful post! I loved all your thoughts. So true . . . powerful writing will come from those things that scare us. You've challenged me to ask some tough questions today. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom. I SO look forward to reading your newest book. I loved the first one!

This post is a print-out-and-re-read-over-and-ver post for me. I've had my struggles with discouragement and writing scared lately. :)

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

Hi Brandy! Great post, and Within the Veil sounds like a wonderful read! (I love the cover, so colorful!)

I think for me, the scariest part of writing right now is feeling inadequate about my subject matter. I'm writing a contemporary cozy mystery set around a symphony orchestra. I work for an orchestra (administrative side), and I know a lot about music from working here and being around it all my life. However, I've never studied music or music theory, and I never played an instrument long enough to be good, so I fear that some parts of the story might not sound authentic. Research only goes so far! But every time I feel like anyone who knows the symphonic world intimately is going to tear me apart after reading it, I try to tell myself that I'm writing for the masses who DON'T know that world. If musicians feel I dumbed it down (which...I am!), oh well.

Please include me in your drawing! Have a wonderful day!

Brandy Vallance said...

Hi, Jenny Snow! Thank you so much. Seekerville is great!

Rhonda Starnes: I'm so glad you enjoyed the post. So glad you have those writing friends! Writer friends are so important. They help us know who we truly are and what we are trying to accomplish. We often forget and need reminded. If it is any consolation, my first book took me fourteen years and eleven drafts. Keep on keeping on!

Megan Brummer: This is so true! The scenes I'm most afraid of showing my critique group are always the ones they love the most. Also, when I think a scene is really bad--as in it's just horrible writing--they say it is amazing. The moral of this is that we aren't the best judges of our own work. I often have to be reminded who I am by those writers who love me the most. In fact, I have a very close friend who talked me off the ledge one time just by saying, "I believe in this book. I'll believe in this book for you even though you can't right now." We really need people like that in our life.

I find that I go through emotional cycles with my writing. It looks something like this: This is great. I'm excited about this. Not so sure...This has to be the worst idea ever...This is horrible. What am I doing? Am I crazy? I think this might work. Will this work? I hate this. When will this end? When will I be free of this? UGH. Who wrote this? A second grader? You know, this might be okay. I'm going to give up writing--FOREVER. Man, when people read this I am going to be so (insert fear). Why didn't I pick something easier? Why did I do this to myself?...I love these words. I mean I LOVE THIS BOOK! The characters....*tears* And on and on! LOL! Now when my writer friends are talking we say, "Oh, so you're in that stage now. Don't worry. It'll pass."

I love your thought: "...if there's not any fear, nothing personal, nothing vulnerable, then maybe it's not the story I need to tell." So true!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Stephanie Queen Ludwig,

This is a universal fear.

I'm a nurse. My husband is a former EMT and yet I never feel qualified to write about even applying a band-aid.

It never ends.

Brandy Vallance said...

Rachael Koppendrayer: I know that feeling so well! I'm a big believer in pushing ourselves out of our comfort zones. When we do we grow so much. I once entered a contest in which I had to read my first couple pages to an audience of one hundred. I was terrified. I did it because it terrified me. I knew good things would come. And amazing things came from that experience. Doing things like that help you to really have confidence in yourself and your work. It enables you to be able to place your flag in the sand and say, "This is who I am. This is what I write. This is important and worthy."

Every step of this scary process is so vital. Developing a thick skin is also so vital. We can't survive without it. Now I write my own worst reviews just so I can prepare myself for the real ones. I put all my worst fears on a paper and then I know that I'm going to be okay. It also helps me to make sure that I believe in what I'm writing. I know this is odd. ;-)

Showing our writing to someone is so hard, especially if you've had a mean critique in the past. But I know you'll bring those lovely words out of your folders. You wouldn't be here if you weren't serious. :-) Blessings and peace for your journey! So glad you like my cover.

Brandy Vallance said...

Jeanne Takenaka: So good to see you here! <3

Stephanie Queen Ludwig said...

TINA, we're our own worst enemy, aren't we? When they say "write what you know," it sounds so easy until you start believing you have to be an expert to write about it!

Debby Giusti said...'ve got a great hubby! Love how he reacted to your story.

Must be a great story!

He deserves a hug. So do you!

Debby Giusti said... giving up allowed!

You are a writer! You will publish!

Enough said!

wbabdullah said...

Dear Brandy,

I found out about you and your newly released book on the day of its release (yesterday) through your Writers Digest article on writing through fear, and I'm taking it as a sign from God. You see, on the day that your second book was born, my second blog post after being silent for 3 years was also born. So I read reviews, read the synopsis, and said to myself, "Hey, she is exactly where I want to be right now. This is the kind of literature I want to write...spiritual fiction that moves hearts." Your advice to write through the fear allows me to sigh a breath of relief. Maybe in this need to write through fear is the blessing of my anxiety. I finally got a positive spin on something that has been affecting me very negatively in the past few months. So thank you!

I'm very excited that your book is so well-received. It gives me hope that maybe my books will be just as well-received, God willing. I love history, I love Downton Abbey, I love peacocks. I like fiction but I have shied away from most of it because the imagery is often too vulgar for my tastes, so I tend to stick with Christian and Islamic fiction. I am a woman who wears a veil daily, and who has always loved gypsies. I want to know why you cried when you wrote this book. I want to experience, through your words, how you wrote through fear. I had a panic attack two months ago. I didn't even know I had an issue with fear or anxiety until then. But I'm working with it. I'm hoping that by reading your work and following you on social media, that in a way, you can mentor me, so that I can do the same thing that you're doing when the time is right...writing more light into a world covered in darkness.

Thank you for your time in reading this! And thank you for writing through your fear so that your transformation transforms us, your readers!

Tina Radcliffe said...

Welcome to Seekerville Whittni. I got your email to our site.

So glad that Brandy's post ministered to your spirit.

Cara Lynn James said...

Brandy, I'm glad you could come to Seekerville today. Great observations. No giving up!

Brandy Vallance said...

Dear wbabdullah: Thank you for your beautiful words! I am so moved. I'm so honored and thankful that something I wrote gave you some inspiration, courage, and peace. I know what it's like to be in that place of anxiety and fear. Take heart.

Congratulations on the blog post! That's wonderful! You should celebrate. We should always celebrate every little thing because the journey is so hard.

It's so nice to meet another history lover who also loves period dramas and peacocks. :-)

In regards to that Writer's Digest post and why I cried after I finished Within the Veil: First, I so love Feya & Alasdair's story. I fell in love with them and their journey--their strengths and their very real struggles. Their transformation is huge! It's very much an enemies to lovers book and getting from A to B wasn't easy. I started off not knowing if it was possible to write about what I had in my mind. So, the accomplishment of finishing had a lot to do with it. Knowing how many times I wanted to give up but didn't also came into play. Remembering every dark place they had come through in the story also caused me to weep. Believing that "we" can go through such things and come out on the other side also caused me to hope. Seeing the spiritual arc when the book was done was a really beautiful thing. It's like our lives. Sometimes we can't see God as we're going through something, but then as we look back we can see His hand all the way. It caused me to examine my own life...once again.

I've heard it said that we write best what we seek most to understand. I had some questions in my mind about fate and how much our choices really matter. There are also a lot of themes of identity in the book for Feya. Some of my deepest questions were answered as I answered hers. So that's a small snippet of the "why."

How I wrote through fear in this book: This story deals with some heavy things--prostitution, a woman's identity, a woman's worth, duty vs the heart, synesthesia (a neurological condition/gift that my son has), and many other things. I asked myself what scared me to write about. Then I wrote about that. I turned off my inter critic and my inner editor and I just put words on the page. I found that I liked that freedom. Now I'm addicted to being free. :-)

With each book that we write, we will be changed. What an awesome opportunity! What benefits! I, for one, want to become a better person and experience all that God has for me. So I say let's just plunge in to the dark places in our souls--those things that scare us, those things we avoid. Let's excavate that and find the light. Then lets share that light with others. The nice thing is that God is with us as we do this. Many times He's leading us through this. We each have our own personal transformations that we need to experience. He will show us the way.

Something that has helped me recently is Ted Dekkers writer's course The Creative Way. The course is closed right now but when it comes available again, it is well worth taking! Mind blowing! He has some revolutionary concepts that I am still working through. He talks a lot about being personally transformed through your writing and many of his thoughts caused me to examine my life and writing and this article was the result. I'm currently reading his devotional The Forgotten Way. :-)

Anyway, that's quite a long response but I so appreciate your comments. Keep writing! We need all the light we can get in this world! <3

Brandy Vallance said...

Thanks, Cara! It's so fun talking shop with all of you. :-)

Sharee Stover said...

Brandy, this post was amazing. I'm printing it for future reference. :) There's so many wonderful quotes and reminders. Thank you for this! Writing is terrifying, exhilarating and at times downright groovy...but on those days when self-doubt is strong, it's good to be reminded that we aren't alone in the struggle.

Brandy Vallance said...

Thank you Sharee! Yes! So true. :-)

Tina Radcliffe said...


Thank you so much for being such an attentive hostess today and answer all our questions.

Come back to guest blog anytime.

We wish you continued success in your writing.

Tina Radcliffe said...

answer ING.

Typo girl strikes again.

Brandy Vallance said...

Thank you so much, Tina! I really enjoyed chatting with all of you today! Have fun writing, everyone! I can't wait to see you on the bookshelves. <3

Megan Brummer said...

Brandy - I go through the same emotional cycle! Glad to know I'm not the only one... haha

And Debby - I might be a bit biased, but I agree. I have a GREAT hubby! He definitely got a hug :)

Sandy Kirby Quandt said...

Brandy, your post could not have come at a better time. So much truth and encouragement to push through the fear.

Jerusha said...

What a terrific post, Brandy! So many quotable moments and strong truths. Thanks so much for the encouragement to battle the fear in this writing journey.

Emily Conrad said...

I needed this today. It's funny how at times we encourage our friends and then not far down the line end up needing the encouragement ourselves. I suppose that's why God sends those friends, and one of mine pointed me to this article. For good reason. Thank you for this encouraging post, Brandy!

Brandy Vallance said...

Sandy, Jerusa & Emily: Thanks for your kind words! I'm so glad that you all enjoyed the post. Blessings on all of you and your writing. <3