“Let’s be brave.”

It’s barely been a week since #SparkNA began (in case you missed it, here’s a post a made about this free writing class I joined), but I’ve already learned a lot–from our facilitator, Mina Esguerra, to my very passionate support group and fellow classmates. But it all starts with bravery, it seems, and I think it very appropriate that this is our running theme for the whole writing journey we will be taking from now until early June.

The first rule: “Your Main Character must be brave.”

I actually smiled reading that line, because I love writing brave characters–brave female characters, most especially. I’m no hardcore feminist, but I’ve gotten a bit tired of the damsel in distress even if not all damsels in distress in fiction are bad per se. I like women with backbones, who know what they want and can arrive at decisions when they want even if said decisions aren’t completely sound. I want them to experience the consequences of those decisions and come out triumphantly. That, to me, is courageous.

But even as I talk about fictional characters, being brave is what we do in #SparkNA right now. All of us have already put a piece of our hearts and maybe more of our sanity out there for the world to see. The friends I’ve convinced to take this class with me have both felt terrified to even fill out the Activity 1 form, but they went through with it, and have gone on to enter the class. We all felt terrified submitting Activity 2 as well, because “Oh God, what if my concept sucks and everyone in class sees how hopeless I actually am?” But we jumped over that hurdle as well, and now we’re all picking our brains (on Viber with my awesome support group, and on Twitter with the rest of the class–seriously, if you want to see how active everyone is, go on Twitter and search the #SparkNA tag) so that we could come up with a substantial outline by Sunday, April 12th.

It might not sound much, but I think all of us are taking these baby steps to being brave.

Because being brave is not only about facing a monster with only a wooden sword in your hand, or a bow and three broken arrows. Being brave is facing a blank page with a million thoughts in your head (or nothing at all), most of them laced with self-doubt and insecurity. It’s typing word after word and asking your friends to look over it, ask “What do you think?” and bracing yourself for the constructive criticism you requested. It’s letting your heart spill out of your fingers as you type furiously to beat a deadline, knowing that somewhere out there, someone who’s ten (thousand) times better than you is doing the same thing, but perhaps with words strung together with lace instead of thread. It’s allowing the whole world to know you are baring yourself to them soon, line after line, free to consume and keep or throw away as they wish. Being brave is knowing that the journey is terrifying, and yet going through with it anyway.

There couldn’t have been a better way to open this class than this.

Let’s be brave.

And I want to tell the world that I try, every day.

To all my #SparkNA classmates–we can do this! It is my fervent wish that each and every one of us finishes our novellas in this short amount of time. I will be cheering you on even as I slave over my own work. Stay awesome! <3

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