The Bell-Sound of Fear

I just finished handspinning a yarn. Yay!

It’s gorgeous. And even though I had no reason to think it would turn out otherwise (the color scheme is great but far from daring) I still had a little crisis of confidence.

Sometimes I only notice I’ve had the crisis as the beautiful relief hits–when I’m certain it’s going to be good. The mounting peal of “is this right is this right” gets cut off and instead there’s clear air to breathe.

I think this is a universal principle, at least of creating.

But creating is everything, from a project at work, to a reorganization of the kitchen, to daydreaming the next fandom post you’re going to make.

Why do we battle fear?

Because making something new is so important.

With a yarn, it’s easy–if I keep going, I know I’ll see if it works. Or I’ll test it, realize it doesn’t, and stop until I work out a solution.

With something bigger, like a novel, you may hit that ringing sound of CRISIS several times.  Where in the process can be personal, but some popular ones are: in the middle of the novel’s drafting process, when setting out to revise, and when sending queries to agents.

Those are the moments where you think “I am actually doing this” and the meaning behind that act becomes clear.

You can’t keep that suspenseful doubt from happening–you can, however, talk to it.

“No, these colors go together. I know that once things fluff up after I’ve set them it looks more finished. This plan makes sense.”

Next post (Wednesday) will be on deconstructing when you’ve making something mean too much, and the fear becomes paralyzing! Because I’ve been working through that recently, too.

why you can’t be taught about revision (and life, really)


It seems like the last few years I’ve done more revising than writing–and maybe more revising than I’ve done in my life previous. It’s all good, though!

Honestly, it’s just another part of the process, even if you have to learn it from scratch for yourself. Yeah. That kinda burns.

Here are my top 3 takeaways about why revision can’t be taught:

I am brilliant because that rhymes with “can’t be bought, only earned”

1. It’s dominoes.

You know there are these huge problems with the text in your head, but when you actually get in there, sometimes you find that one little touch will do it.

Those little touches are 100% personal to your vision for the project, and your way of working.

2. It’s a gamble.

Sometimes just one touch will do it. Sometimes you go through making little touches only to realize you need to tear it apart, and stitch it back together with entirely different parts. This does not mean the little touches were pointless. They brought you to that point, right?

3. It’s a madman’s game.

You’re never done revising, especially if you’re working on a novel. In fact, some of the worst advice (I feel) that goes around is definitely meant to deal with this. At some point, you have to stop polishing and let the professionals work.


You can only learn how to do it for yourself. You definitely need other people to talk it over with, critique, and studying up on the common flaws (even after you think you’ve got them down) is a great shortcut to knowing yourself. But only you can get in that mess and figure out what you were trying to do.

It’s why authors get their names on the covers in big letters, and everyone else is just in the back, jumbled together. A lucky few towards the front, maybe. Anyway. Good luck.