The Rewrite Chronicles: Ink in the Water (Or is it blood? Oh wait. Same thing.)

So, the question is: Should you share your work in progress or not?

Plenty of reasons not to. Who knows? I may regret doing so.

What if you share and you don’t get the response you want? Or you get your feelings hurt? Or they tell you everything your terrified of hearing? Or the life gets sucked out of your story? Or (insert your fear here). Take these concerns seriously.

I share out of fear. One day, you see, I want to be able to say to someone, “Yes, I wrote a book.” And I want to say this without the stammering, the blushing, the hesitation, the anxiety, the suspicion that I have no right to say any such thing, and the need for them to be interested. I want to be able to talk about being a writer without the fear. I want thick skin. I want to know I can put stuff out there and live to tell the tale.

This may be foolish at best and masochistic at worst.

But the publishing industry is brutal. Ever look at how many books get published and how many get attention? You will be rejected by agents. By publishers. By reviewers. By friends. By family. You may be either completely ignored or ripped apart. You may write everyday for the rest of your life and never publish. When your name comes up at family gatherings or office parties, people may roll their eyes–oh, the one who thinks she’s a writer. Whatever you do, don’t ask her about her novel!

I’m going to test the waters here, and perhaps I shall drown. If I’ve any luck at all, my novel’s pages will drift in on the tide. Is that why we do this crazy writing thing? So that after we’re pulled out to sea, our words can still be fished out of the deluge and read?

Hmm. I shall need waterproof ink.

8 thoughts on “The Rewrite Chronicles: Ink in the Water (Or is it blood? Oh wait. Same thing.)

  1. Always be clear what your motivations are. No matter how appreciative someone (my husband!) might be, I never find it to be appreciative enough. No matter how clear-eyed the criticism, I can never bear it. I keep looking for the ovation that I can’t even hear. However, the criticism is eventually useful.

  2. I am very comfortable with being told why I suck. Not sure if it’s a reflection of my self-esteem, low or high, or if I’m a masochist, or what.

    Looking back I can see the point that I felt like an actual writer, and that was the first in-depth, non-familial critique I got. The things my critter told me hurt, so so badly, but it seems they also cauterized that nerve. And when he pointed out what I was doing right, it was salve. And when I saw how much improved my work was for that pain, I grew to love it.

    And on the matter of rejection letters: I loved those, too, since I was so far removed from any kind of publishing activity. Those form rejections were proof that I was part of the process. While disappointing, the sight of each one in my mailbox gave me a little thrill.

    Now I’m in a new realm, where my agent gets the rejections and passes them to me. It’s not nearly as thrilling, and way, way more frustrating to be this close and yet miles away from publication. But I think having the validation of an agent helps tremendously with the disappointment.

    I make it through by focusing on my gratitude for useful feedback, by not expecting anyone to like my work, and by knowing that with each pinprick my work gets better. In each stage, you can find some reason to be grateful for that pain. At least, I did. Maybe I’m just weird. 🙂

  3. dfrucci

    Exactly, I hear the publishing world is almost as brutal as the military, if not more. By the way I looked at your novel on the site so far, haven’t had chance to get too far or too comment yet, but I like it. You shouldn’t be worried at all ,it is great.

  4. It’s hard.
    It’s hard to be rejected, to take criticism, to know when what others are saying is really useful or just a different perspective.
    It’s hard to want something so much and know it may not be yours to have and that even if you get it, it may not be all you wanted it to be.
    And I think, for some of us, it is harder to not do it, the writing.
    So we do what we can, what we have to, to make peace.

  5. How timely. I am writing the second draft of a novel that no one has ever read.

    I find the habit of not letting anyone see it is still with me.

    Why haven’t I let any one look at it? Is it just habit? Or is it fear?

    Wouldn’t it be better to face those fears (which are always worse than reality) and actually deal with what comes of a reader?

    Oh, gosh, I don’t like the idea of having my dreams turned into reality.

  6. Tom, if I find that procedure, I’ll let you know.
    Karen, silly and egomaniacal it may be, but sometimes I just clap for myself. Wahoo!
    Sherri, you’re not weird. You’re someone who will be published one day.
    dfrucci, you are kind. Thanks.
    bella, I don’t know if it is mine to have. I suppose I shall never know.
    rowena, there are plenty of good reasons not to show your work. Don’t do it if you aren’t ready or if there is no one to show it to. But are you writing for yourself or to connect with others? And really, connection is rarely pain-free.

  7. As painful as it may be, we’ve got to get it out there if we’re ever going to improve. Though it’s so important to pick the RIGHT readers, huh?

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