I am still scared of the dark. Seriously. There are so many creepy things that crawl out of the dark - spiders, serial killers, vampires... I have never been able to sleep with my closet open. I can't nod off until I've checked under the bed. I have to lock and re-lock all the doors in my apartment before I can feel safe. The dark is so. Freaking. Scary.
I am also scared of adultery, and broken families, and alcoholism, and the suicide rates of teens in my town, and my friends who daily deal with abusive relationships, and the ways in which all of these things affect me every single day.
I'm terrified of these very real, everyday horrors - and that's why I'm writing about them.
I was completely stuck on my WIP for the last several months. So stuck that I dreaded writing every day. So stuck that I sent my agent a pathetic panicky email basically saying that "I SUCK I'M SORRY WHY DO YOU STILL LIKE ME???" (No, really - it was that pathetic.)
Then one night my friend took me out for coffee, sat me down, and said, "You're scared of this book. You're scared because it's real, and because you identify with your character too much, and in order to write it you have to dig into some very personal issues that you don't like thinking about."
And I cried.
I cried because she was right. I cried because I knew I needed to write about both sides of the coin: the best and the worst, the things that scared me and the things that thrilled me. I cried because I was afraid to write, but I had to.
So, now that I've once again gotten a little too personal, let me offer this challenge: write what scares you. It doesn't matter if you're an author of fantasy or science fiction or contemporary chick lit - when you infuse your stories with things that hurt, things that pinch a nerve or squeeze your heart, your book will be the better for it.
*Anyone else feel like this could be a great picture book title? Or maybe a spooky MG? NOBODY STEAL IT. IT'S MINE.