I just finished the excellent Murder Takes Time by Giacomo Giammatteo, and I read through his biography at the back of the book. How wonderful: he and his wife rescue animals as well. So I fired up his website and, of course, checked out his blog. He is a charming man, obviously fond of teasing his wife and everybody else he knows on his blog. One post that caught my eye concerned a lesson he learned about writing from watching his gigantic great dane defer to tiny, but bold, terriers and drool her way through thunder storms:
It was then that it hit me. I have always had a problem letting my “tough guys” have faults or weaknesses. Seeing Brie like this made me realize that it was okay to be afraid. It didn’t take away from the fact that she could pummel any dog on the property, or chase off a coyote or two, or even stand up to some of the wild pigs. She was simply afraid of thunder—and Rat Terriers.
So how is that different than one of my tough, nasty, characters being afraid of heights, or driving fast, or drowning? It isn’t. It’s all in my mind. Maybe I’m afraid to be afraid?
It always seems to me that you know you are writing good stuff, either fiction or nonfiction, when you yourself are a little afraid. It means you are on the cutting-edge where you, at least, have never gone before.