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Bravery in Sharing



I was asked to take a crack at explaining to other writers how to deal the vulnerability that comes with sending out your work.

I'm not sure what to do about that.

That's something that comes with every piece of your soul that you bare in writing. There's not much I can say to make you feel comfortable with sharing your work. This is a highly personal process. And all I can do is give you some advice on what to expect and what not to expect.

First, you're going to need to develop a thick skin. People are going to give you a lot of feedback on your writing and you need to understand that they are trying to help you. No one writes a perfect, clean first draft. And when you hand that first draft over, there are issues with it that you are completely blind to. People will point them out. It's nothing personal, they're trying to help you get better and help you see some of the things you've certainly missed in the blind fury of a first draft.

And there's always the chance that the person you hand it to won't like it at all. Maybe they won't understand it. Maybe they'll miss the point entirely. These are all things that will happen. Again, you can't take it personally. How you separate dislike for your piece from a dislike of you is a very personal thing.

How do I cope with it? I understand that they're coming from a place of wanting my book and my writing and my stories to be better. Even if I disagree with their notes, I try to understand why other readers might feel that way and I wonder if the problem isn't in what they pointed out, but somewhere else that effects that moment. I assume I bungled the construction of that moment somehow and look for ways I can make myself understood.

It is almost never a personal attack when an early reader doesn't like what you've done. You just need to work harder and polish the story.

There's another kind of rejection, though, and that's going to be a little bit harder to take. This is the rejection of editors and publishers. You've done your work, you've honed your story, you've made it as good as you can, but they reject it like it's a first draft.

You need to understand that much, much more goes into accepting a novel than just writing one. They might not feel like they can sell it. It might not be right for them. It might just not fit what they're looking for. They might like it just fine.

But that rejection still hurts. I'm in the midst of gathering up a whole bunch of rejections on three different novels and it stings, but I keep going. I know that I can adapt much of the feedback I've gotten and work on the books some more. But I also know that I've got other books to work on and have opened the door for more submissions.

Every writer you will ever talk to will have this mythical box of rejections. Or a spreadsheet. Personally, I keep a spreadsheet and keep track of every submission I've made and what the responses were. And I'll eventually crack that nut.

This is part of the process. Everyone goes through it. Embrace it.

I don't know if this helps. Everyone has a different level of comfort with sharing their writing, but if you're not writing for other people to read your work, what are you writing for?

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I wrote a piece on the cinema behind Beauty and the Beast for Crooked Scoreboard...

I have some other stuff coming out later in the week and next week, too.
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Also! here's the full list of "rules and guidelines" I've been collecting over my years of studying writing advice and process. 

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