I wrote a short story. I know that’s not a big deal or anything to get too excited about, but the difference with this story is that I wrote it with the intent to share and submit to a story contest. This is a first for me. I’ve shared my writing before … occasionally … but not often enough. This makes me wonder, can a person be a writer if they only write for him or herself? I think so. But this year I’m trying to move beyond that. I want to share my writing. That’s one of the reasons I started this blog.
I’ve been telling myself I want to write a novel since I was a kid. But I’ve never wanted to share my words. I was always too afraid. Didn’t like the feeling of vulnerability. Insecurity took over, and I don’t generally see myself as an insecure person, so I wasn’t comfortable with that feeling. And those thoughts taunted me, you know the ones: What if they don’t like it? What if it sucks? What if they think I’m a terrible writer? I let them hold me back.
But then last year after reading several books on writing I changed my goals. I kept my long-term goal of writing a novel, but added a short-term goal: to get an official rejection letter.
Now, this may sound self-defeating and pessimistic, but it’s not. Many great authors have received rejection after rejection of their great work. Getting one of those letters would not only put me in GREAT company (whether I belong there or not is a different matter), but more importantly it means I would have taken that chance and finally had the courage to share my work with others. And if that leads to a rejection letter, I’m completely okay with that! If it leads to something more … writing more, improving, sharing more and maybe one day having something published, then that would be even better!
A small step towards my goal is this short story. I was hesitant but I shared it with a friend. Someone who knows about writing. Someone that I trust would tell me the truth and give me constructive feedback. I know it’s risky to share my story with a friend. Talk about putting them in an awkward situation. What if she thinks it’s terrible? What if she thinks I should give up on writing and stick to my day job? (Uh-oh, those thoughts again).
Well, that could have happened. And if it did, I would have chalked it up as 3000 more words towards my million (or at least that’s what I’m telling myself). But you know what? It didn’t happen. She actually liked it. Better yet, she gave lots of good suggestions and tips to make it stronger.
The funny thing is that the timing was perfect. I finished my third draft of my WIP and loaded it onto my Kindle app to read it as if it were a real book. I did this after just finishing a great book by another blogger. I got a few paragraphs into my own story and thought to myself, “This is crap!” And I meant it! I know not all of the story is bad but that opening needs serious work. I couldn’t get passed it! It’s so amateurish, it was embarrassing. I’m so glad I haven’t shared that one with anyone yet. I started questioning myself:
“Why are you doing this?”
“You’re just wasting your time.”
“You’re not a good writer, why bother?”
“You don’t think you’ll ever really publish anything, do you?
… and on and on those thoughts came back to me.
I tried to fight against them. I told myself I just had to keep at it, rework the beginning, make Draft 4 even better. But three drafts in — all that time and effort — and it still needs so much work. I couldn’t bring myself to do it. I told myself to, but I took no actions. Instead I read my fellow bloggers posts. Interesting how some of them have recently had similar feelings. And these are bloggers that I think are excellent writers! I felt a little better.
And then the email came. The one from my friend who said she liked my story. Instantly, I got motivated. I was so excited to revise and improve the story. I couldn’t wait to get to work on it (which I’ve been doing all morning).
I’m sending it to another friend to get more feedback before I actually submit it to the contest. I don’t necessarily expect to win anything — again, I’m not trying to be self-defeatist. If I win, well that would be amazing, but if I don’t I’ll still feel like I accomplished a big step.
As for my WIP, I’m excited to get back to work on that story too now. I can’t give up … I’ve done that before and that’s just too easy. I have to keep trying if I ever want to get over this hump … so onto Draft #4!
How do you get over your insecurities or fears — that is, if you have any 🙂 — and put yourself out there?