The Audacity to Try

Last week when I wrote about The Good Wife, I forgot to mention how the sheer audacity of the writers takes the show from good wholesome legal drama and transforms it into a daring, even shocking show that keeps viewers too enthralled to think about what they’re seeing.

At one point in the show, Eli Gold discovers that his client’s competition in an election had a boob job. They leak it to the press, write a goofy song about how she got bigger boobs… and then discover that she had a breast reconstruction after recovering from breast cancer.


But the sheer audacity of that moment makes it great. It’s not maudlin: there’s no awkward acceptance and apology. There’s just, “Oh sh*t!” and the recovery from a real, incredible mistake.

If only we real people had the audacity to dive into our actions and then accept our mistakes with such gusto.

We writers can’t say we aren’t brave. It takes courage and audacity to try a nontraditional career, to say, “This is what I want to do,” and pursue it without regard to its practicality.

But how many writers will give up because it’s hard, because they think they don’t have time, because they got a rejection notice? It would be easy, even smarter to give up, but think of all the wonderful stories that would have gone unpublished if their writers hadn’t had the balls to keep going.

Most people—certainly most women—know the Laurel Thatcher Ulrich quote, “Well-behaved women seldom make history.”

Did you know that Ulrich is a feminist and a Mormon, and was once denied the opportunity to speak at Brigham Young University women’s conference? Although the board of trustees did allow her to  speak more than a decade leader, she was once thought too outrageous to speak to young women of her own tradition.

It takes audacity to say you want to be a writer, but it takes courage to keep saying it when other people tell you can’t. Pat yourself on the back today, writer. Remind yourself just how wild, crazy, hopelessly hopeful, and damned courageous you are.

16 thoughts on “The Audacity to Try

    • It is easy at times to feel adrift and overwhelmed as a writer, especially with the current state of publishing.

      The bottom line is, people will always tell and want to hear stories. “Publishing,” whatever that means, will adapt for the new ways in which we communicate our stories. And we have to be especially brave to face that adaptation.

    • Amen, sister!

      Okay, I’ve never said that before in my life. But you’re awesome for finishing AND for publishing. That definitely makes you a stand-out. 🙂

    • Definitely! Sometimes I think we might get scared if we thought about the *responsibility* that is writing… It’s scary. We’re putting our truth and heart and dream on the line.

  1. I’ve had this post open all day, trying to think of some way of responding. I’ve read a couple of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich’s books, and she’s an incredibly smart woman. It surprises me that she’s Mormon for the same reason it doesn’t surprise me that the church fathers wouldn’t let her speak at Brigham Young. She wrote about ordinary women who’s lives we now consider extraordinary – midwives and other women who lived and worked in the late 17th and early eighteenth centuries. These women had to be brave because their lives wouldn’t have allowed them to be otherwise. And I think that’s part of the bigger truth that your post touches on. It takes bravery to write something unexpected, and it takes bravery to take a chance on a dream, whatever that dream is.
    Thanks. I feel better now.

    • I love hearing stories like those. Sometimes bravery isn’t an option–and it doesn’t feel courageous to act in those cases, but it IS courageous, even if you’re just doing what you had to.

      Okay, that wasn’t very eloquent. But I think we’re on the same page. 🙂

      I definitely want to read some more Ulrich.

  2. If you haven’t read A Midwive’s Tale, you should check that out. Of the three books by LTU I’ve read, it was the most accessible. I’ve also read Goodwives, which I remember being a little more academic. I tried to read The Age of Homespun (because I was in a freaky needlework stage) but wasn’t hardcore enough to get through it.

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