As I was about to release the first episode of my serial, Debt Collector, I had a sudden bout of anxiety that had nothing to do with the normal release-day-jitters. Or the story itself. In fact, I was in love with the story! Obsessed with it, one might say. But I was afraid of what (some) people would think when they read it.
(Caveat: I’m not talking about gratuitous sex and violence here. I’ve read stories that had blood spraying by the discount gallon and felt unmoved. There’s an entire genre devoted to sex-driven stories – erotica – and I’m not talking about that either. I mean the stories where the darker elements are an integral part of the story, a necessary part, to fully explore the promise of the premise.)
It goes back to one of the beliefs I listed at the beginning of this section: I believe that authors should take risks in their craft and their careers.
Debt Collector was a risk in more ways than one: it was dark; it was a serial (an unfamiliar format); it was a technical challenge to write and publish it on a tight schedule. But I leapt, and now that the first season is done, I can see the benefits that were clouded by a haze of fear beforehand: I learned to write faster; I discovered that embracing the darker side of my writing helped free my storytelling; I found the serial format was indeed a harsh mistress, but it also honed my storytelling skills like nothing I’d experienced before.
Overall it was worth the leap. But you never know that ahead of time, do you? The next chapter, How to be Brave, gets closer to the heart of why some decisions like this stoke the engines of fear inside us, and how to see that fear for what it truly is.