As part of my process of rediscovering creative writing, I wanted to spend a moment reflecting on my learnings and thoughts so far. I am two short stories in now with the second one being in beta-reading phase. Here’s what I discovered.
1. The act of sharing your writing is a very vulnerable one.
I am in many ways, a very open person. So it caught me by surprise how much posting my writing has made me feel vulnerable. While the act of clicking “publish” to show my stories to strangers online only caused a mild sensation of anxiety, every time I click the “share to Facebook” button to announce a new story to my real life friends and family made my stomach dropped a little.
Sharing any creative endeavor is, in my opinion, opening yourself up for judgement. It goes beyond embarrassment of a word spelled wrong or a missing comma. It’s judgement on your imagination, a so very core part of a person. Am I too naive? Too cheesy? Too inaccurate? When you share with people you know in real life, it is judgement that cannot be shut off. What will they silently think of you the next time you meet face to face? It is not a comfortable feeling.
I have no answers to this, other than to forge on ahead and remind myself every now and then that this imagination, this world that I have created is a part of me and that is okay, no matter what judgement comes.
2. Feedback is easier to accept from some people more than others.
My husband was the first one to read the earliest version of 1.0-Pixies_in_the_Wires.story. He had great feedback but it was one I wrestled with for a while. Later on, another friend had similar feedback and I understood and was able to make bigger changes right away.
I think part of it was because my husband was not a fiction reader and definitely not a fantasy genre reader. His feedback, though completely valid, was a lot harder to accept because there was a skeptical voice in the back of my head that said “he just doesn’t understand”. In contrast, the other friend was into creative writing herself and that fact alone made her feedback easier to accept.
In other words, it was harder to accept my husband’s feedback because he wasn’t my target audience.
Still, if someone took the time to read your story and to give you (constructive) feedback, the least I can do is listen and reflect on the feedback. So my next steps is to work harder at accepting feedback from all different kinds of readers. It means holding that piece of feedback up to reflect, ponder, study and potentially act on without looking at the source too closely.
3. Don’t excessively writersplain.
I have been so very eager to share this world with readers out there. I had gently and carefully crafted what I felt to be a unique world and setting and I couldn’t wait to explain all the rules that this new world abided by. But the world itself is not the story. It is just a vehicle for the story to unfold in and that’s what needs to come first. Too many explanations of the world will simply bog down the story.
I stole and modified the word “writersplaining” because I think as a writer, I need to be comfortable enough to let the story run free and allow readers’ imaginations to fill in the gaps instead of trying to tightly control every element, every scene. Readers are smart and they are creative in their own ways. The mind will form its own images and breathe life to stories in ways I cannot anticipate and I need to be okay with that.
4. It is possible to balance a napping infant and a laptop in one lap.
I’m a new mother with a 4 month old baby. It’s not easier to find time to write so my son and I have a bit of a compromise. I’ll just leave the photo here below to explain this one.
Here’s to more stories to come!