Happy April Fools’ or, if you prefer the older name, Happy All Fools’ Day! This is one of my favorite holidays of the year. Not because of the silly tricks and deceptions people pull on each other, but because it reminds me to take risks. I’m not talking of risking money or life and limb but about risking your heart and soul. The kind of risk that might mean pain and rejection. You might end up feeling foolish or stupid. But if you don’t take the risk you will miss the opportunity to make magic happen in your writing and in your life.
TAKE THE RISK
Years ago, after an acrimonious divorce, I was a single parent struggling to balance a job, parenting, and a life. I decided that meant I had to protect myself from risks. But centering everything around my middle-grade son meant I was holding him too close and denying myself adult-level conversations. So I took my first risk and joined a brick and mortar dating service.
I chose a service where I could keep the risk low. All members of this service underwent background checks and no one got my last name or phone number unless I first approved it. First dates were arrange via snail-mail notes sent through the service. And I had a lot of dates. No commitments, just dinner and a movie. That was the way I wanted it. Low risk.
Then, I received a note illustrated by an artist. His invitation to meet also included a suggestion that we could tell stories together. I was intrigued.
I met him at a local Tex-Mex restaurant. His name was Bob. The awkward ‘tell-me-a-little-about-yourself’ exchange segued into a discussion of the creative process. I was amazed that he ‘got it.’ We talked until we were the last remaining customers and the restaurant was locking the doors.
I knew our next conversation would be equally fascinating. But days passed into a week and he didn’t call. I bemoaned this fact to my girlfriend who suggested that I ask him for a date. Oh, no. I couldn’t risk it. I wasn’t that progressive, nor that confident. But when she suggested I write him a thank you note for the lovely dinner, that was a risk I could take. And I did.
He called the day he got the note. He’d also enjoyed the conversation and had thought we’d had a lovely time, until the evening ended. We had left the table and gone to the front desk, where he had paused to pay the bill. When he turned around, I was gone. Vanished.
When he told me that I realized I could not remember saying goodnight. Yup. My risk-aversion had raised its fearful head and ‘we’ skedaddled out of there!
Fortunately, Bob risked a second chance. More dates followed. We risked showing each other our true hearts, our fears, and our dreams. And by taking that risk, the magic began to happen.
RISK YOUR HEART & SOUL
Having been foolish enough to think that I could live a life without risk, it seemed only natural to marry on April Fools’ day. And, of course, it was only natural to share our story with our friends.
That was the beginning of our story. We’re still writing and illustrating. And it’s still magic. But we couldn’t live this story until we each took a few risks.
Writing is a lot like that. Your scribbles (or pixelated words) can fill volumes, but until you risk your heart and soul your story won’t come alive.
EMBRACE THE RISK
Be willing to be a fool. Don’t let your fear of showing too much censor your words. Unfetter your emotions, your memories, your pain, and your joy. Let it spill onto the page. Put your heart and soul on the line. Embrace the risk. It will change your life. And, if you’re lucky, you’ll make . . . magic.
Share the magic!
What risks have you taken in your life? In your writing?P.S. Because this post was date related, the next “Going to Mars: Word by Word” post featuring Greg Bear’s _Forge of God_ will be presented Monday, April 8th.
Oh, and I won’t respond to your comments until April 2nd. I’ve got an anniversary to celebrate!