Such a small word and yet so powerful. And necessary.
Our foster dog's name is Grace. Little did we know we'd need a ton of it to deal with her. I'm beating myself up right now because I just failed to exhibit grace toward Grace when she jumped in the window and knocked off three picture frames and two works in progress.
Extending grace to ourselves is often much harder. We beat ourselves up for the tiniest mistakes. I have the nasty tendency to think I should be somewhere else along this time-line of life. Comparing oneself to another is not going to get you any further along. If anything, it will keep you stuck where you are, wallowing in self doubt.
Grace towards our characters is entirely different. How much do we allow them? Do we throw them to the lions and hand them a rope or do we fling them to the daleks and let them figure it out on their own? Do we allow someone, something to appear at just the right time to save their butts? Ah, then we tread the waters of Dues ex machina and no one likes an unexplained salvation.
Do we or don't we? Do we help them out or just pile on the crap and see how much they can take. During the month of April, I'm going to be doing intense revisions on my novel (part one of a trilogy). While rereading, I realized I'm far too nice to my characters. Sure, I give them hell, but I always shift the weight and let the good guys get out. Not unscathed, but almost too good to be true. Does this make sense? I hope so.
Dare I heave them into the darkness and let them find their own way out? We are the world-builders, the sub-creators (fans of Tolkien will get that), however, when we let ourselves go, when we let the story take over, things happen we could never have dreamed. And they are usually far better than anything we could have dreamed.
To paraphrase Paulo Coelho in the Alchemist, "When you step out in the direction of your dreams and fully commit to them, the universe itself will conspire to help you."
So step aside, let your characters take over. Trust them and in doing so, trust yourself.
Be bold; be fabulous.