Desperation was starting to kick in. National Novel Writing Month would start in a matter days, and I still didn’t have an idea for a novel. So I did what I always do when I’m desperate.

From my nest on the couch, I glanced at my husband. He sat comfortably on the floor, playing a video game. Laptop set aside, I laid on the rug next to him and sighed. Over our years together, this has become the signal for “I have a writing problem and need you to help me.” Fortunately, he never disappoints. Within a few minutes, he always lends an ear to my problem.

After explaining my problem and my itch to write something besides the series that’s been like my heartbeat for so many years, he gave me a dare. An odd one. Yes, still fantasy but unlike anything I’d ever written before. While part of me sighed and thought it would never work, the other side just shrugged, adding, “Why not? You don’t have any better ideas. And who knows where this might go?”

Of course, that response seems typical to any great dare. It pushes boundaries and stretches comfort levels (sometimes so far that they seem like they might snap like a dry rotted rubber band). But at the same time, risks are liberating. While boundaries are being stretched to uncomfortable levels, they also reach into untapped territory with unknown potential. Who knows where they might lead?

While that novel idea hasn’t gone much further than its (extremely) rough draft from two years ago, that doesn’t mean that it wasn’t a worthwhile adventure. I’ve learned from it, had fun with it, and have every intention of returning to that world one day with the new ideas that have slowly been brewing in the background. And that day might be sooner rather than later…

What writing dares have you taken? Do you enjoy taking risks?


2 responses to “Dare

  • Anthony Lee Collins

    I don’t think I’ve been dared to do anything recently. If I had been, it would probably be to write something set in a different place with different characters, which I’m not about to do.

    (If you start doing things just because somebody dares you, you end up with your tongue stuck to a flag pole. :-) )

    But I do take some risks, I guess, because I write mystery stories and I post them as I go. So, when I start posting, not only don’t I know the solution, sometimes I don’t even know the crime.

    But one of my central beliefs about art and “risks” comes from Andy Warhol, who said, “[I]f you say that artists take ‘risks’ it’s insulting to the men who landed on D-Day, to stuntmen, to baby-sitters, to Evel Knievel, to stepdaughters, to coal miners, and to hitch-hikers, because they’re the ones who really know what ‘risks’ are.”

    Once you realize that, a lot of things get clearer.

    • SB (Bryna) Roberts

      That’s a great quote. And it’s definitely important to be careful with what sorts of dares you engage in. : )

      Speaking of which, I know someone (who lives in a place that rarely freezes) that once tried sticking his tongue to the inside of a freezer (though no triple dog dares were involved). Needless to say, it stuck, and it took him a while to figure out how to get it unstuck.

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