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When Fictional Situations Solve Real Life Problems

When Fictional Situations Solve Real Life Problems

Many of you have followed along in my writer's journey for a few weeks, months, or even years now. Most of the time, all you'll see is the excitement that comes with being an author. Things like:
  • Awards
  • Excellent reviews
  • Exciting news of releases
  • Happy updates on progress
But there's a lot that people don't see behind the scenes. Well, like all artists, I get hit with sometimes-debilitating self-doubt. Last week was the perfect example... I was halfway through writing Trials of Stone (Heirs of Destiny Book 1), but suddenly I was hit by an overwhelming wave of self-doubt. I'd outlined the story, yet as I wrote, I realized it was feeling disorganized to the point that I felt the story was starting to SUCK. All of a sudden, the novel I was so excited about just the day before had become a looming giant, something I was dreading facing. Yes, you guessed it: I didn't get any writing done on the story that day! Self-doubt is the artist's curse, and it can be a huge de-motivator. I found myself struggling to retain my enthusiasm for what I know is an awesome story all because of some minor detail I couldn't get right. Thankfully, I've encountered it enough times that I was able to cope with it. Instead of forcing myself to write, I spent the PM tightening up my outline. That way, when I sat down to write again the next day, I knew I'd proceed with confidence because I took time to work through that self-doubt. But that "next day", as I sat down to write, I found one of my characters dealing with that very same issue I was struggling with. She (Issa) is being pushed to her breaking point in her training to become a Keeper's Blade, one of her city's elite warriors. She nearly cracks, but sneaks out of the Blades' base, the Citadel of Stone, to visit her grandmother. But instead of commiserating with Issa, the grandmother gives her what she really needs: Aleema gave her a soft smile. “When you were young, barely five years old, your Saba and I would take you to an olive grove just outside the city. There was one tree, little more than a stump with a few low branches, that you determined to climb. Time and again you fell from the tree, sometimes so hard we worried you had hurt yourself. But every time, you bounced up, that stubborn look on your face, and ran at the tree again. We tried to help you, even tried to stop you, but you refused to give up. Do you remember what happened the day after your sixth nameday?” Issa shook her head. She had little more than a faint memory: bright sunlight dappled through tree branches, the crunch of dried leaves underfoot, and the comforting presence of her grandparents. “You climbed the tree, nechda.” Aleema placed a hand on Issa’s. “You sat on the highest branch in the tree, looking like the Pharus perched on his throne. You had triumphed finally, after all that effort. Then you did the one thing neither of us expected.” “What?” Issa asked. “You set about climbing another tree.” Aleema’s eyes brightened, a broad smile on her beautiful face. “That is how you have always been, granddaughter. Stubborn as a farmer’s mule, yet as unstoppable as a runaway bull.” She grasped Issa’s hands in hers. “Nothing can stop you, nechda. The only one who can stop you is you. You only fail when you stop fighting.” That story (kid climbing a tree over and over no matter how many times they fail) is the one my mother LOVES to tell about me as a young child. (Yes, I did eventually manage to climb the tree!) That story just fit so perfectly here, and it was perfect how the real-life example translated into a fictional setting helped to solve my real-life problem. I've found stories have a funny way of doing that... We all get hit. Self-doubt can stop you in your tracks and make you second-guess yourself. The key to getting over it: take a beat, approach the situation logically instead of emotionally, and remember that it'll all work out. Often in the form of a story... So many times, the stories I write have helped me work through issues in my personal and professional life--relationships with my siblings, spouse, kids, friends, parents, and others. In the end, being able to work things out on the page often helps me work things out in my head or in my own life. Fiction does more than just mirror real life--it enhances it in every way!