How many times in your life have you heard this taunt? My family moved about every six months when I was a child. For several years, we were transient, moving from one oil field to the next, living in very odd places. This meant I changed friends and acquaintances with every move. I was always "the new girl," until we finally settled in one town and stayed.
As the new girl, I had to test the waters, so to speak, waiting and wondering if someone would ask me to play. I wasn't a tomboy, really, but I would take a chance here and there to try something new in order to win friends. Often, a girl or boy would "dare" me.
In first grade, no one would seesaw with me, but I stayed close to the seesaws, hoping someone would ask. A boy stepped up and said, "I can walk up one end of the seesaw and all the way down the other side. Want to see?" Of course, I did. I nodded and he demonstrated the daring feat. As he neared the center, he paused, held his arms straight out, and ran down the other side as his weight lowered the seesaw. Then he dared me to try it.
Okay. I slowly walked up one side almost to the center, but my leather-soled white high-tops were slick, causing my feet to slide backwards. I fell forward and my mouth landed on one of the big iron bolts that held the seesaw to the iron rail. The fall split my bottom lip, and I fell off, also scraping my knees because I wore a dress. Now blood poured from my lip and my knees. A teacher came running and took me inside to call my mother. A doctor put stitches in my lip and the flesh below. I still have a scar there.
But I took the dare.
In another town, a neighbor boy dared me to stand on the edge of the cesspool covered with a loose piece of tin. I did, holding my nose from the stench. My mother came slamming out the back door and yelled at me. She called me to the house and told me a story of a little boy falling into a cesspool and drowning. Sure, that scared me silly…but I had taken the dare.
Another boy invited me to his house to play. (I most often played with boys, I guess.) In his room, he told me he had scary comic books in a box under his bed and asked if I wanted to see them. I said, no, I didn't want to read anything scary. But…he dared me. We spent the afternoon reading scary comic books.
As an adult, at age forty, a friend taught me to play golf. She was a firecracker. Often, I'd want to "lay up" when I approached a water hazard, but she'd always say, "I dare you to go for it." Oh, of course, I did. Most often I failed but at least I tried.
You'd think I learned my lesson over my lifetime of taking dares. But no…I still try new things, sometimes on my own, sometimes at the urging of a friend.
Decades ago, my best friend urged me to play hooky and drive to Dallas to see Bruce Springsteen in his "Born in the USA" world tour. I took the dare and we went…and we were the teachers!
In 2004, I had to stay in a recliner much of each day because of a couple of medical problems. Bored to death, I complained I had nothing to do. My husband placed an old used laptop in my lap and said, "Well, write something."
I took the dare and wrote an entire novel, and I'd never written anything in my life. Now, I have a ten novels, six novellas, several anthologies, and I'm still writing.
In case you think I'd try anything, don't. I do have limits. I said no when urged to try a cigarette; I said no to boys who wanted to go too far; and I said no climbing the town water tower.
However, taking a chance…or a dare…on something you'd really like to do can be a good thing. Suppose you, as an author, would like to try writing, oh, a space opera romance instead of the sweet girl-next-door romances you prefer, but you don't know where to begin or if you'd be successful. Or perhaps you'd really like to enter one of the most prestigious contests around, but fear a dreadfully low critique.
I believe most authors are risk-takers. Otherwise, we wouldn't send our most beloved manuscripts to strangers, hoping they'll love it. We wouldn't take the chance on a bad review by sending our published novel to the best reviewer we know.
Maybe all authors should write something very different once in a while.
Maybe readers should read something very different once in a while.
Go ahead. Try something different. I dare you.
Note: My newest release is TEXAS DREAMER, my 4th "Texas book," another Western Romance novel. See top of blog, right corner. Available at Amazon, Barnes and Nobel, Sony, and iTunes store. Thank you.