I recently heard how eagles build their nests. As the story goes, the eagles build their nests with stones and sticks, and then soften it with bits of feathers. Their babies grow in this nest, and as they near the stage when they're supposed to leave, the parents start pulling away the soft bits of feathers.
These babies aren't meant to stay in the nest. They're meant to fly.
I'm no expert on the subject of eagles' nests, and I don't know how true this story is, but I couldn't help but think about my own children. Like most parents, I hope my sons will be well-prepared when it's time to leave the nest.
But then I thought beyond that. I thought about the characters in our stories, and about us as writers, and how sometimes discomfort is the best thing for us.
When I think about writing fiction, I need to keep reminding myself to make my characters uncomfortable. Loving comfort the way I do, and the way I'm sometimes naive, it's not always easy to push the boundaries and make my characters squirm and take broken paths. I need to remind myself that my characters need to be pushed out of their nests so they can fly.
I love comfort. Who doesn't? Comfort food. Comfortable bed. Comfortable home. But one of the best things that ever happened to me was to be laid off from a comfortable job. It set it motion a string of events that would allow me to stay home with our children, and eventually pursue publishing. Had I not been forced out of my job, I probably wouldn't have left. In a way, I was pushed out of the nest.
As writers, it's intimidating to push ourselves out of the nest. We don't have someone picking away the soft feathers for us, nudging us to the edge. We must do it ourselves. It's not always easy to write from the heart and then send our work out to be picked apart or rejected by critique partners, agents, editors, or readers.
But we do it anyway. We summon our courage, hold our breath, and take that leap. Like eagles, and like our children and our characters, we too were meant to fly.
Is it hard for you to take leaps of faith? Do you stick with what's comfortable instead of taking risks? What nudged you to pursue publishing?