Tempting Failure

Over the past month, I've reread all of the current draft of THE NOVEL and put together a long synopsis that provides groundwork for the entire book. Most of the previous draft will be trashed, which is not a surprise to me. I've done a lot of practice and a lot of learning since I last worked on THE NOVEL. I'm a different writer than I was then. 

I feel good about the work I've done since the start of the year, and it's tempting to continue fleshing out the synopsis, to continue the prep work until I'm certain that the story is right. But if I'm honest with myself, additional prep work would just be an avoidance of the truth — that a part of me is afraid to face the actual work of writing the book. 

A writer can outline and prepare for a story all they want, but in the end it takes writing the story to know if the story will actually work. I'm going to write this book — and hopefully when I'm done with the new, complete draft and all the editing that follows, it will be a good book. But I won't know until I start writing and continue writing, and then write some more.

It's scary to make that leap, and scary to keep going. But as Chuck Wendig says, writers are always on the precipice of failure, so we might as well tempt it. "Tempt failure," he writes. "March right up to it. Always write as if you’re about to fall on your face. Add fire. Bring the char. Toss in a weird ingredient. I wrote several meh books before I finally hit with Blackbirds — and when I hit with Blackbirds, it was because I had lost the capacity to care about fucking up. I felt I had already tried everything safe, everything expected. I’d already walked all the paths and followed every map and I still wasn’t writing anything of substance, so I chugged some whiskey, bit a belt, and went hard into that story because I felt like I had nothing to lose. I no longer cared if I failed."

So that's what I'm going to do. I'm going to march up to the blank page, put some words down, and tempt me some failure. Who knows what could happen?


For the New Books in Poetry podcast, I interviewed Ivy Johnson about her book Born Again (The Operating System, 2018), which beautifully dives into the ecstatic expression of religious experience. With its confessional style, this collection gives power to the female voice, rending open that which would be hidden behind closed doors

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February is Women in Horror Month. Consider celebrating by experiencing some films or books created by women. I'm sharing some of my own favorites on my blog and Instagram

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Any interest in being a freelance author? Here's some handy advice from Lisa Marie Basile.

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Poetry: I've Seen Stranger Things Than This, Mulder by Joanna C. Valente and Another Conversation by Theodora Goss


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