Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Taking Risks

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If you watch any reality TV competitions-Project Runway, Ultimate Cake Off, Next American Top Model, American Idol, etc.. etc.. inevitably you will hear these words from judges... "It's just a little safe. I expect you to take risks at this point in the competition," blah blah blah...

Some contestants take this advice and run hog wild. The next thing you know they're singing strange songs, designing stranger outfits and the risk taking becomes a joke. Others take it well and find the happy medium. That's a really hard thing to do, I'm sure of it. Especially when I think, "Wow, they nailed it!" and the judges disagree. What do they know, anyway?

The point of all this? It's subjective!! Kara and Simon always disagree on American Idol. Tim Gunn is almost constantly disliking certain designs and the judges see something totally different than he does and they love it. Much like...you guessed it...writing.

In writing we take risks with every word that hits the screen. In writing we take risks every time we send out that submission, communicate with that agent/author/editor and start a blog with the hopes of having a good following. Why? Because we want "them" to take risks on us too.

What about risks in our story telling, though? Not the actual story. But what if you decided to push the envelope a little more and take a risk in writing a book that has nothing to do with any trending? Or, take a risk and write what is trending? Take a risk and twist the trending writing? The possibilities are endless...because what might be a risk for me, is normal for you. What might push my abilities, is your lowest standards. It's all a risk.

What do you think? Are we too obsessed with risky and forgot about good? Or should taking risks become an even larger focus in the writing world?


  1. In my most humble opinion we're screwed when we venture from our own authenticity....whatever that is. When you compromise or lose your voice to please someone else....you're, at best, a second rate whoever that someone else is. At best.

    Let's get down to basics and use you as an example. You are an extremely talented writer. If you compromise your style or your story or your words to garner approval, you've missed the point of creativity and you've also wandered off the path the Lord has planned for you. There is only one voice like yours. God made your voice the perfect Kristi Faith voice, coming from the perfect Kristi Faith being.

    And scene. ;)

  2. I agree with the above comment unless you're holding back. Sometimes writing from the depths of our soul is tough, and when we let go of that fear and write from our gut, it's magical. I remember listening to the editor from HarperCollins in NYC talk about how writers need to take risks. However, her presentation was a turn-off for me because it was from a marketing perspective. It was like she couldn't wait to discover the next off-the-wall book. Writing loses its luster when its written for the market instead of from the soul.

  3. I believe that you could truly drive yourself crazy trying to write to the market or stay ahead of the next latest craze. I believe you have to write whatever is within and market be damned. That's just my two pence though. ;)

  4. I like risk-taking - within limits. I'm a fan of doing what feels right, yet trying to push those boundaries as widely as possible :)

  5. I think we sometimes do have to take risks; especially as new authors. So much has already been done, and only our unique voice sets it apart. Yet, we don't want to be so unique we enter experimental. Well, even then, someone has to come up with something new.

    I guess you have to just go with your own feelings about your work. If it feels "risky" to you, then it is, and maybe that is a good thing. A writer must adhere to their own standards afterall.

    I feel I took a risk with my novel idea in writing it AS fiction. The culture of substance abuse, sexual assault and gang violence, while not unheard of in fiction writing, is usually only explored at this emotional depth through nonfiction personal accounts. The work is in taking a woman everyone thinks of as pretty pathetic for remaining in that environment and to make the reader understand her choices.

    As others have noted: risk is as subjective to the writer as it is to the publishers and readers.

    I like your observations and analogies. Now you've made me think way to hard at the end of the day.



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