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Comfort With Discomfort

I’m thinking today of Sons of the Wolf, a wonderful Gothic suspense by Barbara Michaels (AKA Elizabeth Peters) that I read years and years ago.  I remember this one scene where the protagonist was locked in a tower, and outside her room was a large, muscular, violent dog.  She needed to get out to help her beloved, but to do so she’d have to get past the animal.  I remember her saying something like this:

“I was terribly afraid of that dog.  I wasn’t afraid that it would bite me; I wasn’t afraid that it would scratch me.  I was simply afraid of it.”

That’s how I feel whenever I contemplate messing around with my book.

I’m not afraid that I will mess it up; I’m not afraid that I will be unable to execute my plans.  I am simply afraid of it.

Today I am taking a second (ok, thirty-fifth) look at the first scene.  It’s a good scene, a solid, character-setting scene, but I must admit that it is a touch backstory-heavy.  I’ve received comments about it in the past, and I’ve always looked at it and decided, “No, no, they’re wrong.  This is the perfect scene.  The scene.  It fits.”

And it does, but that is not enough.  Comments add up.  Today I finally decided to go ahead and see if it can’t simply be cut.

Which means reading over the first several chapters and making sure they still work without the scene.  Which they do, 95% of the time.  The other 5% can be easily polished smooth, but it means touching my novel.  Messing with it.  Taking it out of the Done pile and moving it back to the marshy no man’s land of Not Quite Yet.

This is not something I want to do.

And it has me surfing the web, writing this blog entry, doing everything except my assigned task.  All because of that fear, which is not even about any particular eventuality, but just about… it.  My book.

Rather than pushing that fear aside, I am trying to let it in.  Trying to deal with it.  Trying to gain a little more comfort with discomfort, you know?  Because being afraid is not the same thing as having a problem.

I feel like this is the sort of attitude that could revolutionize my life.  I’m cold?  Not the same thing as having a problem.  I’m tired?  Not the same thing as having a problem.  I’m not saying these things aren’t unpleasant.  I’m just saying it’s possible to know that you’re unhappy, while also knowing it won’t change your expectations for yourself.

Anyway, this first scene revamp is a thing I’m doing.  Which means eventually it will be done.  It’s just a matter of how long it takes me to get there.

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