I’ve been revising my current WIP these last few weeks. Technically, I never “finished” the first draft since I discovered something major that needed changing (which is another story) while in the throes of writing the last chapter or two, but what I’m doing right now feels like revision. And it’s the first of likely many. I try not to think about that most days.
Oddly enough, I haven’t let a soul read any of it aside from the first few chapters of the draft (a friend bugged me to let her) when I first started it and the chapters I brought to a workshop back in March. My current revisions are solely things I know are wrong or not quite right or whatever. In some ways, it would be nice just to keep it to myself, working in a vacuum.
I’m scared, you see, of feedback. Mind you, I don’t discriminate between positive and negative. One makes me feel like a fraud and the other makes me want to hide under a rock somewhere, but both have paralyzed my writing in the past. In fact, I’ve gotten so comfortable with not sharing my work that, aside from snippets here and there I show to one demanding friend, I never share my work or talk about it. The workshop I went to was an exception, but even there, if anyone asked me what I was writing about I went tongue-tied. I dismissed myself before anyone else could because it’s easier and safer that way.
At the beginning of the week, a friend of mine, who recently rounded up a group of us to be his writing critique circle for his first attempt at a novel, texted me about my own work. He expressed interest in reading some of my work. And per usual, I made excuses: it’s not finished, it’s a mess right now, you probably wouldn’t like it anyway. And then he asked me, “Is it hard for you to let someone else edit your work?” Needless to say, he hit the nail on the head.
I don’t think I’m unwilling to let others edit my work. But I am hesitant to share it unless it’s as polished as I can make it. Maybe I’m a perfectionist. Maybe I tie my self-esteem too closely to what other’s say about my work. Except…I don’t share it, so how can I say either?
The thing about writing is, it’s a lonely occupation, but the goal in the end, if you truly want to be published, is to share your words and stories with other people. And I haven’t been sharing anything thanks to some fear of not being worthy or good enough to warrant anyone’s time. My friend, he has sent his rough first draft of chapters to me and others, chock full of typos and grammar that would make your hair curl. He knows he wants to be a writer, and he is dauntless in his pursuit of it, seeking feedback and making changes.
I want that. I want that fearlessness about my writing. I know once upon a time I did have it. I remember in high school, reading one my short stories (my take on a modern-day Cinderella) aloud to kids in the literary magazine with me as we flew from Alabama up to New York. I read aloud…on a plane! But now, I won’t let people read a word.
And so reader, after that conversation, I sent him the first two-thirds of my draft. It may not be much, but it’s a start.