The Enchanted Alley would like to welcome today’s guest, Jim McDonald!
About Jim McDonald
Jim has spent over 25 years as a business and technology consultant, which has allowed him to travel around much of the world. Now somewhat settled down in the Carolinas, he is using a lifelong interest in history, mythology, anthropology, the hard sciences and B movies to bring his own versions of folklore to life.
When not clacking away at a laptop either for the job that pays the bills or drawing the odd ideas from his head to paper to disturb and amuse the readers, he can be found playing with hot glass or running around in a kilt promoting Celtic culture with his wife and three dogs pretending not to know him.
Today Jim is talking about what it’s like to be a writer, constantly being judged, and how to handle that fear and criticism.
Fear in a Sea of Judgement
Has your finger ever hovered over the button, poised to send your manuscript off to your beat readers? Your editor? Your publisher?
The one that shoves it out into the world on Kindle?
When your heart races, the sheen of sweat on your brow, dampness in your palms that sends you to make another cup of coffee instead of sharing your work?
Do you have thoughts about the controversial scene? The one that kept you up at nights, or that you wrote around for weeks, knowing you’d have to come back to it at some point?
That statement you know will bring down scorn from some people?
Just even the simple internal doubt about whether or not your work is good enough to warrant a form rejection letter from the slush pile?
You know, that old friend. Fear.
As a writer, you pour your heart and soul into words streaming on the page. Your thoughts stretch to wondering what people will think of you, because of what you have written. What will you do if people don’t like it? Even worse, what if a lot of people read it, and you stir up a lot of noise because of the subject?
There’s an old saying. Kill your darlings. I carry it a little further. Give life to your dreams and fears.
If your writing is truly worthwhile, it is not only entertaining, but will energize some, and infuriate others. Trying to make everyone happy leaves no one satisfied.
The key to having your message heard, is giving people something worth remembering. And almost always, this comes from triggering one or more of our four core emotions. Happiness, Sadness, Fear or Anger.
When I look at the books that hold the most meaning for me, they are the ones that pushed the limits for their time. Robert Heinlein is one of my favorite authors, and he was more than able of stirring up people of every ilk, and pushing buttons. Some people saw Stranger in a Strange Land as the foundation for the Free Love movement of the 60’s. Others saw Starship Troopers as both an endorsement and an indictment of the military industrial complex. Both are stories that spurred controversy, satires of their subject matter and the societies he modeled.
Not so far on my end of preferred reading has been the 50 Shades of Grey phenomenon from E. L. James. Definitely controversial, sending some people into frenzies that it promotes and glamorizes abuse. For others, it’s been freeing to give a tantalizing glimpse into a niche lifestyle.
What do these have in common? They are controversial, and influential in society. I have to think that when Robert H. was writing freely about incest, it gave him a little pause. E. L. James has certainly taken some backlash, as well as praise.
Writing gives us a medium to explore those ideas that fascinate, titillate, and terrify us. And then we get to share that with our readers, and do the same for them.
So why do we hold ourselves back, and ultimately fail our readers?
We are afraid what people will think. We worry about how others will judge us.
And guess what?
They are going to do it anyway.
I’ve been guilty of toning down some of my writing. It’s often been my regret about some of my work. I worried about how people would view me based on something from a story, and I’d cut it, or at least trim it back. When I talk to my readers afterwards, and they talk about how they read something, or how it affected them, I’ve realized how much of a punch I’ve pulled in a few cases.
I’ve gotten better about this, and the reactions I get these days are much more visceral. On a couple of earlier works when I’ve new editions to fix the little things, I’ve taken opportunities to make small enhancements to restore some of that impact. But at some point, you’ve got to push your children out into the world, warts and all.
So I hereby challenge myself to push more boundaries, especially the ones that make me uncomfortable. The ones that make me grow. And hopefully, touch at least one reader out there.
I’d rather be judged for pushing some limit, testing some boundary, shoving someone’s darling off a cliff with a hand grenade attached than being judged for doing something without substance or meaning. And no, I’m not looking to make everyone happy. Really, I’m not looking to make anyone happy. Except myself.
Even if I worry how my work will be received, I’d rather people look at me and shake their head because of what I do, not because of what I might have done.
Will you do the same?
Thank you, Jim!
We’re really looking forward to seeing you push those boundaries and see where you go from here!
Jim can be found all along the interwebs at the following places:
- Web: http://jim-mcdonald.net
- Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jimmacauth
- Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/8119076.James_McDonald
- Twitter: @JimMacAuth
- Or drop him an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure to show Jim’s latests releases some love as well!
We Are Not This
Over two dozen writers from North Carolina or with deep ties to the Tarheel State band together to raise money for LGBTQ charities in Charlotte and North Carolina as a response to the NC General Assembly’s passage of HB2, the “bathroom bill.”
We are not discrimination.
We are not hate.
We are not fear.
We are not oppression.
We Are Not This.
Proceeds from the sale of this anthology will go to support LGBTQ charities and non-profits in North Carolina.
Unbound and Determined
Greyson Forrester, born and raised to be a powerful wizard, has survived his trial but left with bigger mysteries behind it all than before. Discovering the trial was just the first battle in a much longer war and the veils between the realms nearly impenetrable, Grey’s lost everything and is again on the run, trying to keep a tenuous hold on life and discover if his restored powers are a gift or a curse.Lost, injured, and alone, someone makes the offer he can’t refuse. To save the two women he loves, and amend for the trail of destruction in his wake, all he has to do is one little job.One thing is certain.The ferryman’s price is a lot more expensive on the return trip from the land of the dead.