Every once in a while you read a book and think with a smile, shudder, or frown, “Hey, I know that character!”
A Man Called Ove was such a book for me. The main character, Ove, was really my father in disguise. He was a man I knew well and as I read further into the story gained insight into what kind of man my real life father is and why he operates the way he does. Sometimes these discoveries made me happy and some made me sad but it brought to light things that I was able to put under the microscope and examine in a way that I had not been able to before. I have a real appreciation for books that are able to do that. Those books that can bring clarity into some part of our own lives are amazing. They contain stories teach us, provide insight and make us think of our own experiences in new and different ways. That kind of writing is rare and oh-so-special.
I am a good short story writer. That is why I write for magazines. But I dream of being a novelist. A good one. I dream of writing the type of book where it takes six months for you to get it after putting it on the reserved list at the library. A book that is meaningful. A novel with characters that the reader connects with from the first page and cry with at the last.
I have a half-dozen half-started novels in binders and on my computer. One day I would like to finish just one but I find that I have difficulty sustaining the thoughts/actions of my characters after many chapters. And so I stop. Thinking about them, developing them and challenging myself to work harder to figure out exactly who they are. Because I am afraid. Afraid to push myself harder. Afraid to commit. Afraid to find out who I am so I can find out who they are. Afraid of adding anything else to my plate.
I am afraid and I am ashamed of this fear for it is unlike me to tuck my tail between my legs and run. But run I do…I sprint back to the safety of what I do well instead of walking towards the unknown outcome of my dreams. I suffer for it and settle because of it. Fear binds me and wraps its chains around me and I don’t even struggle to break free.