This year I thought I’d dig around in my archives a bit; resurrect and breathe some life into some of my older posts from a time when no-one read this blog. There’s some good stuff buried back there. Well, I think it’s good. Seems a shame for no-one to have read any of it.
This is based on a post originally titled Birth, published on 12 January 2011. I’ve adapted and updated parts, especially the beginning, but largely it’s intact. It’s also quite timely, given I’ve just finished a draft — not that it’s anywhere near being read yet (wink).
Every writer invariably reaches the point where they finish something — a novel or a short story if we’re considering fiction.
It’s an exciting time, especially if it’s a longer work, because this means we finally get to have someone read the product of our labours. It’s also a daunting time for the very same reason. For my part, the thought of someone reading my story and passing judgement makes my stomach churn.
It’s weirdly ironic. We hope desperately that we will ultimately find readers who appreciate our creativity and vision, yet until we receive the validation of publication (or positive feedback), we live in fear that our hopes are in reality delusions.
I try to remember that Chris Baty quote: “Your voice is important and your stories matter. Someone has been waiting their whole life to read the book you are writing.” If that doesn’t inspire me, nothing will.
Writers need to have thick skins, along with oodles of self-belief. No matter how many people tell you they love your work, just as many will remain ambivalent (or worse). I’m lucky to belong to a fabulous writing group filled with writers and friends in both camps. The former help with the self-belief side of the equation, while the latter present insightful critical appraisal that — if considered objectively with said thick skin – helps shape the manuscript into something even better.
It’s true that writers must write what resonates with them personally, but there would be very little point if no-one read our creations other than ourselves.
And that’s why I think excitement tends to beat apprehension when it comes to inviting others to read our work. Because until a writer’s ‘baby’ is read in its entirety by someone other than the author, it hasn’t actually been born. The only way a story can live (whether commercially published or not) is in the minds of readers.
I think the above must go for all stages of the creation process — whether one is entrusting one’s work to a beta-reader, submitting to agents and editors, or bracing for the readers of the world at large.
I’m still at the beta-reader phase, having never actually submitted anything (except a couple of old short stories) to an agent or editor. Every time I peruse reader reviews on Goodreads or Amazon, I imagine what it must be like to have someone bothering to provide feedback on something I’ve written. Thrilling if it’s good. Mortifying if otherwise. (Just daydreaming.)
Thoughts? Comments? Do you think about such things when you’re reading or writing?