Through Her Eyes

BY RACHEL MIDDLETON

I’m a writer. It has taken me months, even years, since I began writing to claim that. I felt that I needed to earn the title, that there was some “rite of passage” before I could claim the identity. Once I claimed that aspect of my life, it became easier and easier to add it to my list of traits I shared with people.

Over time, I was able to say “I have a blog” with confidence, but for some reason I trained myself to mumble the next six words “and I’m working on a book”. You see, the lack of confidence in the fact that I was writing a book stemmed from the lack of confidence in the answer to the next question people always ask. Their eyes get big, that impressed look spreading across their face, and then they ask the big question: “What’s it about!?” I actually hear it with that exclamation mark. That, that is when I freeze. This is when I lose them. “Well, I’m not really sure yet”. They look at me as if I am crazy. Maybe it’s just me but I feel like there is a thought bubble floating above their head saying, “you’re writing the book, how can you not know what it’s about?”

Pretty soon “I’m not sure yet” turns into “it’s hard to explain” or “I’m not ready to share yet” with a smirk that makes them think I have a big secret to tell. In reality, I’m afraid of not being able to explain, not being able to be understood. I feel like I should know what my book is about. I think I need to know. As if knowing would make me more of a writer.

The truth is, I don’t fit into a box. Writers rarely do. According to Pinterest, other blogs, and Google, I’m doing it wrong. I skipped the whole plotting out the points and started off with the ending. Not like “oh this is the direction I’m heading” but legitimately, the first scene I wrote was the last chapter. Chapter 1 has yet to be written. I write the scenes as they appear in my head, which means absolutely none of them are in order.

I have read article after article explaining the way to start a book and then let myself get discouraged because I cannot fit their mold. I’m missing the carefully diagramed plot points. I’m still figuring out what the conflicts are going to be. When people hear that I am writing a book, they want to read the back cover. But do you know what is even better than having that synopsis? Discovering it.

Discovery. That is what I’m doing. It makes me smile getting to discover that Lainey smells books in the store. I get a thrill from being surprised at the way that Jade and Meg always disagree yet stay the truest of friends. I have the chance to unfold the depths of each character in “The Crew” and their idiosyncrasies. I get to be both reader and writer, traveler and guide, follower and leader. I get to play around with the way things happen, decide it is not what I want, and change it. This releases me from the fear of creating a ripple effect in my plan if I change one little thing. It allows me to relax without having to think about the outline I might have messed up when I changed the location of a certain scene.

In the rest of my life, I am a rule follower. I don’t color outside the lines. I have a plan for almost everything. But not when I step into my world. In my world of writing, I get to break the rules. I decide I can write without an outline, and that it’s okay to not know what my book is about, and that figuring out the steps is even more fun when they are out of order. I like thinking outside the box.

So if you write with a carefully planned outline or you write like a bowl of spaghetti just poured out of your head, you do you. Embrace your writing style quirks and all. I choose to embrace mine, confused looks and all. I will proudly proclaim I’m in the process of discovering what my book is about. I will laugh at the quizzical faces and just shrug my shoulders, and say “I’ll let you know when I find out”.

Oh yah, and what is my book called? It’s called Through Her Eyes. I’ll let you figure that one out.

Read more from Rachel Middleton at @rachel.a.middleton and on her blog, Unfiltered.

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