What you’re waiting on is not permission (but why it might seem that way)

Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

It’s the first day of the new year and I have just edited three stories I found from my past. When I mean my past, I do mean past. We’re talking stories from fifteen years ago.

I had big dreams when I wrote those stories. I was enrolled in a writing program and was on my way to be a published writer. I wanted so desperately for someone to say they were good; I needed that nod of approval.

Reading over those old stories, I realized they were ready. Part of the reason I could edit them so quickly was because they were publication ready. I had just been waiting for permission.

It wasn’t that long ago that you needed that nod. It wasn’t that long ago that you needed permission.

This is simply not the case today. But my children remind me of what we do fear.

“No!” my daughter screams at her five year old brother. He has a Kindle in his hand; his finger is poised threateningly over the screen. “NO!” she yells, louder this time.

“What’s going on?” my husband asks, unperturbed.

“He’s… he’s… he’s going to embarrass me!” she yells.

Wrestling ensues. The Kindle comes out unscathed. My five year old, not so much.

Turns out, she had recorded a song she didn’t want played for anyone but the limited company of cats and siblings. It was not meant for… er, general (read: parental) consumption.

And therein lies the rub.

Today, in the world of Facebook and Twitter and Kindle self publication, while we don’t need permission, we confuse criticism with refusal.

If five people read my work and hated it, didn’t share it, criticized it or worse ignored it, my reaction reflects my old need for permission.

In short, I am embarrassed, waiting for that old nod, for someone else to claim its worth.

But I won’t get it. Or rather, I won’t get it from the world at large. What I write is not meant for the world at large anyway. It is meant for a select audience.

In the absence of a big publishing company or a big, centralized media picking and choosing the right market niche for my work and thereby giving my work their much sought after Nod of Approval, I have to settle for criticism, hatred, or just plain old being ignored.

And you know what? There’s nothing wrong with it.

There will always be someone who is not impressed. There will always be someone who will hate it. That’s the price of not waiting for permission.

Pay the price. And get your stuff out there.

It’s better this way.