I wrote my first story in college. It was a strange tale of strange physics that ended with a nun in low earth orbit. I was so proud of it, I showed it to a friend.
He told me it was the worst thing he had ever read.
Handing him my story was like singing off-key for Simon Cowell. Except my friend was a lot meaner than Simon Cowell.
The thing is, everything he said was true. The writing was dreadful and when I realized just how dreadful, I stopped writing. When I started again, I didn’t share anything with him, nor anyone else for that matter.
I often wonder what would have happened had he praised my work. I probably would have kept on sharing it with others until someone less kind than he told me just how dreadful it was.
Even if no one told me how bad it was, sooner or later I was bound to find out on my own and that would be devastating.
What I needed and what I was asking for was the feedback and affirmation that all performers require to hone their craft.
Yes, I said performers.
Writers are just like actors, artists and singers, we do what we do for an audience. In short, we do it for approval. Which is why disapproval is so hard for us to handle and why we feel embarrassed and humiliated when our work bombs.
The problem is, we are caught in a Catch-22. We learn what people like by showing them our work but when we do, we risk disapproval – which is the exact opposite of why we do what we do.
It is a crazy problem but I found a simple answer to it in a little orange box with white chunky letters on a website. The letters spelled the word Submit and the website was Gather.com.
When I post my work here, I am sharing it with my peers. Among them, I can be assured that whether they approve or disapprove, at least they are going through the same things I am.
Having said that, whenever I post my work, I still feel a twinge of fear. There is always the risk that a Simon Cowell is lurking ready to pounce at the other end of the wire, or worse, that one day I might reread what I wrote and cringe.
It is that fear that keeps me on my toes but it is also the magic of writing sites like this. There is always a wonderful tension between how easy it is to post and how easy it is to post something truly embarrassing.
Even in a community as safe as Gather.com, we may still feel intimidated from time to time – but we should never let that hold us back - because learning to write is a painful process and the best way to move forward is to put our egos on the line.
This week's challenge: take a chance. Take something that you have been working on, polish it up a bit and post it.
Post your article to Gather Writing Essentials.
BE SURE TO TAG your submission with MWE. Note: I search for articles using the tag "MWE" If you don't tag it right, I will not find it.
- Include "Monday Writing Essential" in your title.
Last week’s writing challenge: write like a tough guy - drew the following responses:
Weekly reminder: don't forget to recommend an article that you like (to learn why, read Ann Marcaida's article Attract More Writers and Artists to Gather!).. Also try to place a comment on at least one article and say more than you liked the piece. Tell the author what worked and what needs work.