There is courage in opening up and bravery in asking for help.
I am neither courageous nor brave. My default response to any difficulty is to wall myself off from the world and figure out a solution on my own. I am independent to a fault.
Work, writing, and life have all been in varying stages of overwhelming at some point this year. Recently, I wrote a message to my writing group, The Emissaries of Strange (TESSpecFic). I told them I could no longer be a part of the group, that I was taking down my blog, and quitting fiction. I couldn’t take the immense, crushing sense that I am not measuring up, that I’m falling behind, that I’m never going to get it right. And by it, I mean writing, life, everything. I sat poised to send the message.
And then I deleted it.
I asked for help instead. I told The Emissaries I was overwhelmed and unsure of my path. The responses were immediate and heartfelt. Not only did hearing from my friends make me feel better in the moment, it showed me a vital truth: it is easier to carry a heavy load when you have help. No one can write my novel for me, but other writers can help me understand I’m not uniquely cursed with this horrid pressure. I’m not the only one who feels like I can’t write well enough, fast enough. I’m not the only one missing self-imposed deadlines because of a story that turned out to be far more complex and challenging than expected. I’m not… alone! Asking for help allowed me to engage with my community, and to feel accepted despite my doubts. Independence is a useful and necessary quality, but there is warmth and fellowship in accepting help. This is the grace in asking.
In my discovery of this grace, I have learned something else: I am ready to accept help in my writing process. Given that I am independent to a fault, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that I rarely let anyone read my stories before they are finished. Sure, Stolen Climates had an editor and beta readers, but I only engaged them once I was 99.9% certain of the story’s overall shape.
Now I am struggling with my second novel. It is a looming fright of a task. I am afraid that the book is confusing because of the complexity and the fact that most of the characters are duplicitous. I am afraid that I am both being too technical, and not technical in enough of the right ways for sci-fi. I am afraid that my world building is too weak, but fearful excessive detail will bog down the story. I am afraid that it is not going to ever be good enough. I am afraid I am not strong enough to write this story’s soul.
Ask for help. Or, more accurately, accept the help that was extended to me before I even realized I should ask. Mr. Aniko has offered to be my reader and brainstorming partner, and I have accepted. It will take courage and bravery to share an early draft, but I will. I am open to grace.