Having the Guts to Write

“And by the way, everything in life is writable about if you have the outgoing guts to do it, and the imagination to improvise. The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.” 
― Sylvia Plath

I think it's every author's fear that they aspire to be great and merely turn out mediocre--or even a complete flop. It's my strong belief that one of the ways a writer does not live up to their potential is because they are afraid to push the envelope. 

They're afraid to really write.

The beautiful (and terrifying) thing about writing is that it reveals an author's deepest thoughts. 

As an introvert, when I started writing I thought it was something embarrassing, something to keep to myself, something that I could not be proud of. It's taken me several years to wrestle with this idea that writing is an art which I can fine-tune, which I can practice and which improves most when shared with others. I've been forced to come out of my shell, accept my thoughts, and share them with others.

Sharing your work is a major part of writing. 

Even if you have no publication aspirations, sharing your writing will give you an opportunity to grow and to learn from the reader.

I'm part of an online forum where I share my writing. When I decided to get serious about my craft, stumbling upon this forum was one of the biggest blessings in my life. It not only gave me an outsider's view, another opinion, but it created confidence in me. Other non-biased writers are some of the best places to give and receive feedback from. Even when they did not love what I'd written, there was value in the feedback I received.

Writers take away different things from a book than what a typical reader absorbs. 

Once I took my writing seriously, I know my criticism of other writers intensified. I had always been critical of books, and it's a running joke in my book clubs that I cannot find a book I love. (Although this isn't true--I swear!) But in my forum of writers, I am allowed to be critical. I can tear their writing apart (kindly), knowing that my intention is to help them improve as a writer and to buff and shine their work-in-progress until it glows and I am jealous of what they've written (if I'm not already). And I can be confident that they are doing the exact same to my work.

Other writers have an ability to be honest about the quality of writing that most readers lack. Not to say that getting a non-writer's opinion is not valuable--by all means, it is extremely valuable, since they will be the majority of people reading your book. But a reader tends to take away a general impression, one which removes overall themes and feelings from the book without being able to discern why they love or hate the book. 

A writer, on the other hand, is usually able to pinpoint exactly what makes them feel a specific way in a piece of writing, as well as offering solutions to fix the sentence or piece as a whole. This is invaluable insight into your writing. Insight which you, as the author, are too close to your work to see. 

There comes a time when one must get over their fear of sharing and fear of rejection and share their writing with others. 

Share it in a safe place first. Let your confidence be buoyed--but be realistic about praise if you share only with friends and family who will probably tell you your work is the best they've ever read. Recognize that sharing with a stranger, like in an online forum or a writer's group, can be much more valuable in terms of honesty. And honesty promotes growth.

What it really comes down to is stuffing down your fear and putting yourself out there. 

Take baby steps if you have to, sharing a paragraph or sentence or simply a story idea. Then share more, and share it with a wider range of people. Don't allow yourself to get comfortable in your writing. 

Comfort is the death of growth.

Writers should never stop growing. I don't know about you, but I don't want to be a writer whose first work was just as good as her last. I want to constantly improve, constantly make my writing more valuable, more interesting and more thought-provoking than the last. 

I don't want to remain a static writer. I want to be willing to change, when change is necessary and vital. 

I want to be a writer with the guts to push the envelope.


The Fourth Fisherman by Joe Kissack, A Review

I wasn’t sure what to expect from this book. But I knew that it was about a man and his marriage, and, somehow, how a group of fishermen had saved his marriage. Two seemingly unrelated incidents, and two incidents that I am still not quite sure complement each other.

When I began reading this book, I think I expected something between a Nicholas Sparks book and Moby Dick... But it fell short on both ends and pleasantly surprised me in the middle.

Joe Kissack had it all, a fancy house, expensive car, enviable job. He had it all, but something grave was lacking. A part of him always understood this, and he sought to fill the hole inside him with more stuff and more accomplishments. Eventually, alcohol, and then drugs filled that hole. It’s not an uncommon scenario: raised under a tough father, the man wants to please his father and so becomes an overachiever, until he finally realizes that nothing fills this hole and he needs help.

But for Joe Kissack, help arrived in the story of five fisherman who disappeared from the Mexican coast. It was a news story that went largely unnoticed in America, overshadowed by the confession of John Mark Karr to having killed JonBenet Ramsey. Kissack, however, followed a different story, a story about survival in the midst of overwhelming odds, a story of five men drifting in the ocean who had only each other, a boat and a Bible.

The story of the three surviving fishermen, Jesús, Salvador, and Lucio, does not parallel Joe Kissack’s much. The telling of their stories, narrated in alternating bits and pieces, is at times frustrating and other times slow. Although both stories are interesting, I found the fishermen’s story more so, and was disappointed that the fishermen’s story was not featured more prevalently past the first twelve chapters. 

For some Christian readers that suffer from depression and drug and alcohol abuse, Kissack’s dramatic salvation and easy abandonment of such demons could be challenging to read about. Although it is stated once that most Christians do not have a transformation like Kissack experienced, the story is more focused on the amazing aspects of his salvation. I do not mean to make light of God’s ability to change lives, and though this story is about that ability as much as about the fishermen, for some readers, this may not be an inspiring read, but one that leaves them unhappy with their ongoing battle with depression or drugs and alcohol.

The Fourth Fisherman was a book that I am glad I read. It was interesting and kept my attention throughout, but I would have liked to see more substance with the fishermen and how their ordeal changed their lives. That part of the story is glossed over and the brief epilogue is too brief, in my opinion. Despite my reservations, I enjoyed the read. Kissack has written an inspiring book, one that could encourage men and women to accept some harsh realities about themselves and get help, whether from God or from counseling.

*I received this review copy from Blogging for Books.

My Rating: 

3.5/5 stars

It would provoke interesting discussion in a book club, but simply for the way the parallel stories are approached, I don't feel that I can rate this book higher.