This post is kind of about me, personally, and my writing journey. In particular, something I struggle with, and often stands between me and growing as a writer, I think. As I just announced the winner of a first-chapter-plus-query-letter critique over on Write On!, it got me thinking about critiques in general, and how I am -- wait for it -- afraid to share my work.
Not afraid to be critiqued, mind you. Official critiques, I'm okay with. I've been toughening my skin for years, thanks to some really important people in my writing life. While it'd be lying to say that it doesn't hurt anymore for me to hear that my character is unlikeable or my story is plotless -- I've had my fair share of pouting and discouragement, for sure! -- I will say that I've come a very long way. The prospect of having my work torn to shreds doesn't really daunt me.
Or does it?
Because here I am, facing this problem: I don't share my work. Can't. Won't. If you ask me: "Oooh, when will you be done? Can I be first to read it!?" I'll probably hem and haw some noncommittal answer, and you'll probably never see a paragraph.
I do realize this is a problem. And I've given it lots of thought.
Why don't I want to?
Why is it so hard?
While digging around in my thoughts and actions, I've come up with this answer: It's not that I'm afraid of critique, necessarily, but rather, I'm afraid of a label. In particular, a "this is the best she can do" label. A sort of rejection, if you will. I don't want you to look at my work, today, and judge that as the best I can do. Because, whether it actually is or isn't, for whatever reason, I'm anxious to prove to you that it's NOT. That I will do better next time. Can do better. Simply must do better.
So just wait 'till next time, I say. Wait until the next novel. It will be good enough for you to read, then.
Of course, it never is. No sooner am I done with the next novel, I'm also in a hurry to bury it in a drawer somewhere and guard it, so not a word escapes.
This is my predicament, and it bothers me. I want to have a tough skin, in the sense that I can finish a manuscript and simply let a friend read it-- no big deal, right? I want to be able to let anyone read my work, faults or no, and trust that they'll understand I'm a learning, growing writer. We all are, after all. J.K. Rowling is still learning. Suzanne Collins is still learning. I sincerely hope that Stephenie Meyer is learning-- a lot. *cough* (Couldn't resist.)
Which brings me to the part where I implore for your advice and thoughts. What do you suggest I should do to kick myself out of this stuck place? Should I just send people my work without a second though, and be vulnerable? Let me know in the comments. We have tea, hot chocolate and big squooshy chairs down there. You should stay a while.
Happy Monday, everyone!
Best part of today: The cool morning!
Currently craving: A coffee-based drink.
Music pick: "Love" by Im Jae Bum
I'm reading: "Chocolat" by Joanne Harris
WIP: Drafting Survival (16,068 words)
Whispering Into the Void
5 days ago