On Sharing Your Writing

I'm always writing a story in my head. I have been since the time I was a child, when I declared it was my life's ambition to be an author and illustrator.

In middle school, I wrote mostly poor, unedited Percy Jackson fanfiction riddled with clichés and Mary Sues. (If I can find it, perhaps I'll share it on the blog and give everyone a laugh.)

Then in high school, I took a creative writing class, and for the first time I had to share my writing with other people. This was completely new to me. But even more jitter-inducing--I was graded on it.

My work for that class consisted mostly of short stories and flash fiction, though my preferred medium is novel-length tales. Even still, I learned more than just writing techniques in that class--I got feedback on my writing and was able to critique the work of others, too. I saw my work from the perspective of both writer and reviewer, and while that didn't lessen the self-criticusm that I, and most other writers, experience, it did give me a different outlook on the writing process.

So when I finished the class with a top grade, I began to realize something--I enjoyed writing for people other than just myself. And perhaps even more astonishing--they enjoyed my writing!

At the same time, the work I was turning in was only short fiction, five or ten pages at most. Nothing like the 500-page tales I dreamt of one day publishing. At the same time, the briefness of the stories allowed me a measure of distance from my work. I didn't have to be as open, as unprotected, in my exploration of these stories, because there wasn't time to delve into the soul of the writing and characters. Even still, the emotional distance that the stories afforded me was probably what made sharing my writing so bearable. Without it, I'm not sure that I could have turned in work to be marked as if it were nothing more than an essay.

In my later highshool years, I would take to Wattpad, an online website for writers to share their work. It contained anything from poetry to fanfiction to novels. While publishing to the website wasn't something that stuck, the experience was invaluable. Interacting with readers and seeing their comments was so enlightening because it allowed me to see the faults and merits of my own work.

The thing is, it's so much easier to share your writing with people online than those close to you. The prospect of having people you know personally reading your work--especially if they aren't writers themselves--is frankly terrifying. Perhaps the fear of judgement or ridicule is too great a threat. Perhaps it is because, through writing, we expose our most intimate and vulnerable selves.

The thought of sharing my work with people I know is still scary. But I'm working on it. After all, it is a trial all prospective authors must face if they hope to see their work published some day.

Will I share my stories someday? I don't know yet. I hope so. I hope to be able to live up to the aspirations of the starry-eyed little girl who dreamt with all her heart of being an author. (And illustrator--though my aspirations have changed a bit since then. For example, I now longer want to shave my head bald like I did when I was a toddler.)

The point is, the trials we face with books aren't always evil overlords and fearsome dragons. Sometimes the biggest struggle of all can be pushing past your own insecurities to share your story with the world.


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