Will They Like Me?
I want people to like me. Correction: I crave for people to like me. I’ve had this intense need to please for as long as I can remember, and I have to tell you, it’s officially outstayed its welcome. See, I’m working on a new story, and I’m trying to release the characters to breathe and be. To mess up and fall flat on their faces and doubt and wrestle and the many, many experiences that I too have faced.
But I’m so concerned about whether or not people will like my characters. I find myself censoring my heroine’s behavior and dialogue. I think, well, I can’t have her say that. No one will want to keep reading! Or, I couldn’t possibly let her do that, what will everyone think of her? But, of course, the real question is… what will everyone think of me?
This mental paralysis is killing my creative spirit. I avoid sitting down with my manuscript, for fear of writing safe, but even more so, for fear of writing courageously. Donald Mass says this about writing 21st century fiction (book), “It’s an approach to novel writing that eschews both snobby pretense and genre dogma. It is personal, impassioned, and even downright quirky, yet through its rebellious refusal to please, it paradoxically achieves universal appeal. It panders to no one. It speaks to everyone.”
Who wouldn’t want to create that type of story? I’m so exhausted of trying to please through my writing, and I think my poor characters are weary of my tight grip on them. But what if I took my fist from around their tired throats and let them speak? Really speak. What if I let them struggle and doubt and scream until what they really needed to say burst forth like lava into the blue, blue sky?
I have found that the only escape from people pleasing is a greater realization of how completely loved, accepted, and “in” I am with my Creator God. So hear is my prayer. God, I want to exhale as an artist. Teach me, won’t you? Teach me how to lower my fearful hands and surrender the likeability of my characters, of me. Let me be content with your love. Fill me up high, so high, that I don’t need to get more from my writing. Let my writing be a gift. Oh yes! Let me give instead of get. Let me write a story that “panders to no one” and “speaks to everyone.”
That’s my prayer. What would yours be? How do you create without the constrains of pleasing others?