Monday, July 14, 2014

Fear of Commitment

I’ve always been sort of a commitment-phobe. Not with relationships, really, but with decisions. I tend to hem and haw between things, worrying that I’ll choose one, when the other one was actually the better option. My husband jokes that even when we go out to a restaurant I’ve been to a million times, I take 20 minutes figuring out what to order from a menu I know by heart. Plus, I’ve got to hear what everyone else is ordering before I place mine…what if my friend gets her dinner and I realize her dish is really what I wanted?

Even when I was deciding on a color for the entryway of my house, I had this problem. I put fourteen (not exaggerating) different paint swatches on the wall before I could pick one, and we’re not talking about a huge space here. But the real kicker…they were all beige.
I wish I were more decisive. I wish I were the kind of person who makes a choice without hesitation, sticks with it and doesn’t look back. Unfortunately, second-guessing is in my nature. I always wonder about the path not taken.
Surprisingly, I had no trouble committing when I started writing At This Stage. I knew the basic premise from the start and never strayed from it. But, inevitably, I came to a roadblock where I just couldn’t bring myself to make a decision. I was working on a scene between Kaitlyn and her current boyfriend, and I didn’t know which way I wanted this piece of the story to go. I wrote it two ways in the draft, leaving both versions in there until I was entirely finished. I knew if I went with choice B, I’d have to rework a number of other things, too. I only took choice B out right before I gave the draft to a couple of people to read. Even then, I was uncomfortable committing to it and asked them to read it both ways. They unanimously picked the same version I did, so I was able to breathe a little bit easier.
I know doubt is normal, and there were many times I reworked scenes over and over. However, that was more for overall improvement than to determine which direction I wanted to take. And there were times when the story took me places I didn’t expect, but I knew they felt right. This particular time, though, I just couldn’t pull the plug one way or the other until the very last second. I almost wished it was a Choose Your Own Adventure story and I could leave both options in there for readers to make their own selections.
But that’s not how life works. I had to choose a scene, just like I had to choose one of many beiges and last night’s dinner. And even though I may always wonder how almond bisque might have looked on my walls instead of sandalwood, it doesn’t mean I love sandalwood any less.

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