Taking Chances

Life has not been easy lately. While some people are likely going through struggles that make my life seem like a cake walk, the burdens I carry seem no less heavy to me. And some days, the weight of them pulls me down, and makes it hard to lift my head up to get a look at the goals that I’ve had my eyes on for so long.

If you’ve read my blog previously you’ll know that a man I knew, a good man, was killed in a vehicle collision a number of weeks ago. More recently, a dear friend of mine, a man I consider my mentor, who is near as kin to me, had to undergo surgery to remove a mass from his lung. Despite a positive prognosis, I was absolutely terrified to see him go under the knife, as he was not someone I was prepared to lose while there were still so many things I wanted to ask him, and even more I wished to say. Then, most recently, I was injured at work (it’s a bit of a long story, that I won’t get into here. Suffice to say it was during a physical confrontation…which I won).

With all the weight that was bearing down on me, despite my resolve that it should be otherwise, I was not doing much writing, nor was I inclined to.

Then, I got lucky. A friend took a chance on me and sent me her story to read and give feedback on. I say she took a chance because she sent her work to an uneducated goon, and there were no guarantees that I would be able to add anything constructive.

While I found I had no stories in me at all, I was able to read someone else’s, and so I set to work. The process of reading her story critically, with my best eye, has helped me immensely.

First of all, I was able to discover that I actually had something useful to say about her work, which surprised me as much as anyone. 

Second of all, it has inspired me to move forward on my own stuff. I have not written the Great Canadian Novel, but I got some ideas down – ideas that are outside the realm/genre of what I normally write. I took a bit of a chance and tried to think outside of the self-imposed box I seem to have sealed myself in, and tried to examine my creative process from a different perspective. Now, these ideas may, eventually, turn into a really good story, or they may end up as forgotten scribbles in a note book. The important thing was that the ideas were moving.

Yesterday, my wife and I were in a bookstore, and I saw a book by an author I’ve never read, or even heard of before. As ridiculous as it is for me to say – seeing as I’m a new author, that no one has ever heard of, published with a small indie house – I don’t often read authors that I’ve either never met, haven’t read before, or haven’t been recommended to me. But I saw this book, read the first page, and took a chance and bought it. I’m now about a quarter of the way in and loving it. If I’d not taken a chance and picked it up, I’d have missed out on a damned good story.

When we write, we often tend to stick to the old addage, “write what you know”. But, the further I move in this writing life, the more I discover this is not always a great idea. It is when we move out of our boxes, our safe places, that we really begin to make some progress.

I am a big fan of the idea that, in order to write a good story, you have to write what you want to read, and write a story that matters to you. This is a concept that, as far as I am concerned, is not negotiable. So, I’m not saying you should abandon the things you love. What I’m saying is, if you take a chance – write in a different genre, put down some new ideas, try a new author, or even do something as crazy as sending your work to where someone might actually read it – you might have more success than you anticipated.

For me, learning to do this is another step down the long road of this craft. I hope you’re willing to take a chance and move along with me.



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4 responses to “Taking Chances

  1. dasmpa

    Ah, Tyner. You took the words right out of my mouth. Great post!

  2. Wonderful post. Hang in there, kiddo.

  3. It is wonderful what will somehow spark us enough to lift a load of grief or hurting or despair. Thank you for this post!

  4. A wonderful post Tyner, thank you for sharing yourself with us!

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