Just Call Me Buridan’s Ass

Once upon a time, there was an ass.

This ass was equally hungry and thirsty and found himself midway between a pail of water and a bail of hay.

Normal thought process is to take whichever is closer, since the need is equal. But in this situation, there was no better choice. The needs and the time to get to both were the same.

So what’s an ass to do?

Realize it doesn’t matter and just pick one? Nope. That’d be too easy, now wouldn’t it?

Buridan’s Ass lays down and dies from indecision  hunger and dehydration.

That’s me. Buridan’s Ass.

It’s a little flaw that I loathe in myself. I’ve had it forever. Like fifth grade forever. Maybe earlier. I remember dreaming about tests the night before, and when the time came, I can’t tell you how many times I second-guessed my answers. More often than not, my first guess was right. I even remember telling myself in high school to just stick with my first guess. I had to pound it into my brain in college too. I was one of those kids obsessed with making A’s. 100’s, if I’m being honest. I strived for perfection, and even though I didn’t always get it, there were times I did. Many. And those times just drove my need for perfection even harder. There was no greater elation than to see a 105 on a test or report card. But even though I’ve dealt with this my whole life, and beat it into my skull, I don’t think it stuck.

Indecision has crept into my writing.

I realize now that it’s been there from the beginning, I just didn’t give it the credit it deserved. But this weekend, it really hit home how much it still affects me.

One of my WIP’s has a touchy subject matter at the core of my main character’s journey. I don’t think I would have ever even thought twice about it had I not Googled to find other books with the same subject matter. I wanted to see how other authors dealt with the topic.

Mistake. Mistake, mistake, mistake. *smh*

There are all kinds of opinions on the internet, and apparently, many people hate the topic I chose to drive my MC. One called it LAZY WRITING BECAUSE IT’S INSTANT CHARACTERIZATION.

A lot of people would have just taken it for what it’s worth: AN OPINION. But not me. No sir. I Googled MORE. People might hate this book! It might not sell! Agents might call me lazy!!

I freaked. The hell. Out.

Of course, I turned to my friend Misty. I just wanted her to say, “It doesn’t matter. You’re on the right track. Go.”

And at first she did. And I did as told. But this weekend, I second-guessed my decision.

The first pages of my book are dark. They are difficult. They hit home for a fear many women have. It’s hostile. Violent.

And mercy…I loved it.

But, what if no one else did???

So I Googled. Again. (I know. My own worst enemy). And of course, I found what I went looking for. There were still people all over the internet saying they hate books with this topic. I had another option, another route I could go. One that was easier infinitesimally. It wouldn’t cause as many scars or conflicts for my MC though.

I was at a crossroads. Just like Buridan’s Ass. I needed to choose and I had two roads to choose from. The road some people wouldn’t like or the road some people still wouldn’t like.

There was no easy choice. One was not necessarily better than the other, just…different.

Enter Misty. As you can tell, I value her opinion. Mainly because it forces me to choose. I noted the conflicts that could arise for me as a writer if I kept the original route. Relationships would be altered in the book. Not impossible for me to do, but I’d have to be damn convincing.

She told me to go the second route.

I didn’t want to hear that. I wanted her to, yet again, reassure me that the choice I’d made earlier was the right one.

Then it hit me.

I didn’t want to take Route 2. I wanted to take Route 1. I believed in Route 1. I felt it in my bones. It moved me, made me cringe, made me think about things I’ve never thought about. Faced with giving it up, I knew I had my answer.

Just like that, I knew which way I had to go.

And it wasn’t the popular vote. It was just my gut, saying DO THIS.

I guess it’s normal to get scared when you’re doing something that goes against the grain. But I realized, that for every person that won’t like this book, there will be one who does. I write dark fantasy. Odd, when you look at how light and comical my contemporary romance is, but that’s just the way I write. I can’t change it. And I don’t want to. It’s just not as easy to settle into these Urban Fantasy writing pants as it was my Contemporary fiction ones.

I’m hitting difficult subjects. Digging deep into my character’s emotions on a level I didn’t even realize until yesterday. They say we writers are to find our character’s wounds and pour in some salt. I’m freaking digging in with both hands and ripping them open. It’s going to be an emotional ride, I know.

As for the Buridan’s Ass in me? I’m just glad I realized what was happening. That it was just self-doubt rearing it’s ugly head, causing me to be indecisive. It’s hard to make the decision you truly want to make when you aren’t sure you can handle the consequences.

But I did it.

And I’m marching forward.

How about you guys?? How do you deal with indecision in writing?

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  1. Always go with your first gut instinct!
    You're right – someone won't like it. And someone will love it. But who are you writing for right now? Yourself first. So the question is, do you love it?
    If so, then continue!

  2. I always feel like I can tell when a writer really loved what they were writing and it makes me enjoy reading it, so I say always go with what you love, not matter what!

  3. At least you narrowed it to two choices, i always seem to have a hundred :S congrats on sticking with your gut