A lovely lady recently asked me about taking the risk in writing, how do you take the plunge, should I take the plunge, where does the impetus come from? And I went on and on about assessing the risk, the rewards, imagining the worst case scenario, blah, blah, blah, when all I wanted to say was, “Fuck risk, do it.” That’s my advice on risk. Below is the experience and advice from someone far more knowledgeable and far more eloquent.
From the article, The Risk-Taking Writer is the Successful Writer, by Susan Tepper
“I once began a story called Deer. It was about two young kids, a boy and girl, under driving age, who were driving recklessly in the boy’s father’s convertible. They were searching for deer along a winding reservoir road. It was something bored kids might do. This story is set during the Vietnam war years, a risky time in history. And because I write spontaneously, never plotting my work, I was typing along when suddenly a line shot out across the page. A line of dialogue that really threw me. I sat back in my chair thinking: I can’t possibly keep those words in, they’re too disgusting. Then I left them in the story. Because they were the character’s words, not mine. I was deep into these characters and this risky dialogue just came flying out.
The result of taking that risk speaks volumes for risk. The story was published in a top tier literary magazine. Nominated for the Pushcart Prize and for National Public Radio Selected Shorts series. It went on to be performed as a theatre piece at Inter/Act Theatre in Philadelphia. It has been anthologized several times. And it ultimately became the title story of my first collection Deer & Other Stories.
If I had chickened-out and pulled that line of dialogue, the story would have taken a different turn. By keeping it in, the story became violent in a way that mirrored the climate of our country during the Vietnam era. It quite literally broke the story loose.”