Friday, August 31, 2012

Taking Risks

I am a daredevil.

No, really, I am.

Okay, stop looking at me like that.


 I swear.

 I am this girl every single day.

Alright, I know. Exactly who am I kidding here? Daring for me is washing dark clothes with white towels. My hair has been the same shade of blond for as long as I can remember. I tend to wear black so much that I look like I’m in a permanent state of mourning. I…I…why am I trying to convince you how tame and boring I am?!! One more example and I just might have to drown myself in chocolate after this post. Because the thing is, I WANT to be a risk taker. I WANT to be crazy and wild and impulsive and just plain old BOLD.

But it’s just not me.

At least not outside of a piece of paper. Writing novels is the one place where I take risks no matter what. And I think more than anything else, it’s what got me picked up by an agent and ultimately a publishing house. You’re probably wondering what I mean about now.
Basically what I’m trying to say is that when it comes to writing I purposely put myself in an uncomfortable position. In the beginning this was just opening up the computer and trying to write, later it was changing my novel from third person past tense to first person present because it felt right for the story—nevermind that I had never written in first person present before—I made myself figure it out. And the biggest risk of all was writing the book that ultimately sold, THE SILO.
 When the idea for SILO first popped into my head I loved it, but it felt way beyond me at that point. It was very much a psychological story told from one girl’s point of view and dealt with issues that I felt were going to be a challenge for me to handle the right way for a young adult audience. Add in the fact that my gut was telling me to write it like it was a dystopian, but in the present and you can see where some of my unease came in. It also didn’t help that when I told an agent about the concept she immediately asked for me to send it to her when I finished (I know you're going WHATEVER right here, but hear me out), confirming what I knew: that the idea was a good one and if it didn’t fly it would be because I screwed it up.
I can’t even tell you how many nights I fretted over that book, how many times I sincerely thought I might not be able to actually manage it. But through it all I made myself risk taking that next step, writing that next chapter, sending the finished manuscript to the agent that asked to consider it seven months earlier. I refused to let myself be overwhelmed to the point of paralysis or play it safe. And I am so extremely happy that I did. I can see now that stepping out in spite of my fear, in spite of all the ways I might've failed helped get me outside of my box, pushed me to think in new ways and quit relying on the kind of writing/stories I felt I was fairly good at. By making a decision to be bold I became bold and so did my story.  
Now if only I could transfer all that writing boldness to the rest of my life. Wait a second, you know what? I AM going to make it transfer. Why not? Starting with my hair…I’m thinking maybe a spicy shade of reddish brown….

So what about you? Are you taking risks? Have a story idea that scares you have to death to write? I’d love to hear all about it in the comments!

Over the years Amy has been, among other things, a doll maker, a fondue waitress, a fifth grade teacher, and a stay at home mom. Now she writes contemporary young adult novels full time when she isn’t tackling the Mount Everest of laundry piles and refereeing smack downs between her two very lively daughters. Her book, THE SILO, about a girl whose grown up in an apocalyptic cult and the last few months leading up to what might be the end of the world will debut with Random House in the fall of 2013. You can find her on Goodreads, Twitter, and her personal blog.


  1. Brilliant post, Amy! If we can't take risks with our writing, then we're doing something wrong. Thanks for being so brave. I can't wait to read THE SILO!

    1. Thanks Elsie! I feel the exact same way about your book!

  2. Love this, Amy! When my writing scares me, that's when I know I'm writing what I NEED to be writing. So glad you are taking risks and I am very excited for THE SILO.

    1. Thanks, Stephanie! Glad you're taking risks too! Looks like it worked out pretty well for both of us:-)