I am delighted — delighted, I tell you — to present a guest post today from the amazing Shari Slade, Friend of Wonk, frequent commenter, and all-around awesomesauce person, on the topic of Honey Badger and silencing the voice of doubt. And if you don’t like it? DON’T CARE.
When I crack my knuckles (gross, I know) and waggle my fingers over the keyboard, the voice over begins. Not the voice of my character, though hopefully that starts too, but the VOICE OVER.
You know what I’m talking about. Oh God, I hope you know what I’m talking about. We all hear voices, right? I’ve seen the memes.
Some writers refer to it as their internal editor or their lizard brain. I’m fond of sending Shelley Ann Clark’s to his corner. For me, it can go one of two ways. Some days, most days, I get The Voice of Doubt. (Not to be confused with The Metatron*, though that is an easy mistake to make.) I’ll call it VD, because it’s with me all the time and leads to some awkward late-night conversations. It’s something I manage.
VD sounds a lot like Dorothy Zbornack from The Golden Girls. She’s a snarky, sophisticated lady, with fabulous shoulder pads so you know she means business. And she can fill her voice with spine-melting judgment. As VD’s go, I could do worse. She’s pretty bad ass when she’s on your side.**
She is NOT on my side.
I get this:
And late at night, this:
But, wait. Wait. On my best writing days, the days when I don’t hesitate too long over the keys, I get Honey Badger. I’m going to assume everyone has seen the video, but just in case:
All you really need to know is that Honey Badger Don’t Care. Honey Badger gives Dorothy Zbornak pause.
I heard a lot of “there are no rules” messages at RWA13. Inspiring, but I know very well that there are rules. Tons of them. All over the internet, in workshops, and craft books. Usually with the caveat that if you are special, and understand The Rule, you (dear snowflake) can break it. Maybe. If the wind is blowing southerly on a Tuesday and all the stars align.
Rules, rules, rules.
I hates them, precious. So does my Honey Badger.
Honey Badger eats rules for breakfast, right after his big bowl of poisonous snake-flakes, washed down with a glass of freshly squeezed I Don’t Even Give a Fuck. When he wants a snack, he reaches his paw into a plot hole full of stinging bees and licks those bees from his claws. He licks them and he likes it.
Honey Badger just keeps going.
When I’m badgering my way through a scene (and Sweet Baby Jeebus, I wish I could badger more) I don’t waste time thinking Should I? Can I? Honey Badger says YES, ALWAYS. Is that too far? Honey Badger says NOT FAR ENOUGH. GO FARTHER. GET NASTY.
Because NASTY is where it’s at, baby. Nasty is the sick-sweet ache of finding something that is true, and real, and possibly beautiful in its ugliness*** and not backing away from it. Letting it bite and sting and cut, as you push forward with the story you want to tell. Faster than doubt. Because there is no should or can. There is only MUST. YES. DO.
This isn’t about being gratuitously shocking. It’s about taking risks. And being authentic. And just getting through a first draft without falling into the pit of despair. The pit that looks a lot like me sitting alone in a room staring at a blank page while VD tells me I can’t write that, someone else already did it better, and really that is just too much, and you aren’t allowed to have heroes who braid hair.
The pit stinks.
Of course it does.****
Even as I write this, I can hear VD creeping in. She’s saying: Who do you think you are, Missy? You’re not published. You’re nobody. You don’t have any answers.
And I don’t. I don’t have any answers at all, but I’ve got Honey Badger. And you know what he’s saying? DON’T CARE.
Also, that he would like to eat Serena Bell’s lizard.
Do you have a Voice of Doubt? What does it sound like? Maybe Honey Badger will eat yours too.
**If your heart is true, I hear she’s a pal and a confidant.
***Truth? Beauty? Honey Badger says FUCK KEATS.
****When in doubt cram in as many cult references as possible. Honey Badger says USE THEM ALL.