No, I’m not talking about the movie – although, it’s good, so watch it if you haven’t.
In three weeks I’ll be attending my first conference. It’s a small conference in Tulsa, OK. That’s okay, I think I need to deal with small before I kill my claustrophobic self with too many people. One of the things I’m most nervous about is showing an editor my first five pages. Why on earth are you nervous about that, you might ask?
Because I’m scared of showing people my work. As soon as I leave it with someone else, I feel a deep abiding hatred for whatever I’ve written. How could I show my work to someone and think they’d like it, be interested or not completely repulsed? In short, I loathe that I dared to presume.
This is what a crit group is for, right? My crit group of awesome people meets every Thursday. But let me try and explain why showing my first five pages to anyone, especially at the moment, is cause for panic.
My current WIP is a dystopian sci-fi trilogy. Yes, trilogy. Not because I feel it needs a sequel, but because in order for me to tell the entire story, it’s seriously going to take three books.
I started the first book on June 3, finished the first draft on June 12. Second book on July 4, didn’t finish that until Sep3, and well last tuesday (Sep 20) I started the third book. Hoping to be finished by next week. I’m a month behind where I wanted to be.
I’ll have written 270k inside of 4 months. Amazing? Hmmm, not really – they are just first drafts. But the thing is, for a first draft to become a polished and ready to submit draft – I’m going to have to show other people, get other opinions. So really, my ‘amazing’ writing speed, is worthy diddly crap if I can’t finish a revised version.
There are two people I’ve shared my work with for six years who read as I write. But the thing is, none of the books are revised. I wanted to finish book 3, before I revise book 1, so I can make sure of the consistency in them. Make sure all the details are where they need to be to span all three books.
So, those first five pages are still in stream of consciousness, never re-read or revised, very much a first draft state. And I sent them to my crit group for last night.
As you can see, contrary to my belief that this would kill me, I’m still very much alive – or I could just be fooling with you all and have set the post time for now… but that’s not the case. They liked it. Sure – there were areas they had suggestions of phrase, tightening and major grammatical corrections (because grammar is my weakness. Yay for living in Germany for half of my childhood). But they didn’t laugh, they didn’t tell me it needed ten years worth of work to show someone… they found weaknesses, pointed them out and made me feel like maybe, just maybe this is possible.
We’re all our own worst critic and personally, I go through cycles of loathing my work. In hindsight, nothing was ever a good idea.
See what I did there?
This is one of the things I find best about the 3rd Writer’s platform building campaign run by Rach. It’s making me share writing. Okay, so it’s only 200 word pieces of flash fiction, but this is a huge step for me.
I’ve loved writing since I was small, since I was eight to be precise. But just because you love something, just because you practice hours on end – doesn’t necessarily mean you’re good at it.
Showing my writing to other people fills me with fear. I get headaches and stress, and want to take it back off them. Hell, as soon as I hit post with these two campaign pieces, I had to walk away from my computer so I didn’t delete the post.
Will I be ready to share this with other people? No, never. I don’t believe I’ll ever be ready for someone to look at my characters and potentially not like them, or even not get them.
Am I going to make myself show my books to other people? F*****g A I am. Not to mention I have a face to face crit group who’ll hold me down and steal my laptop from me if I dont… (yes, the books are on the laptop)
I believe there comes a time in the process as a writer that you just have to start believing in yourself. When you have to be able to roll with the punches and still come up swinging and determined. That time for me is now.
Because, when all is said and done, I’m not going to let fear, loathing and the ever present nagging at the back of my mind hold me back from becoming better at what I love. And I don’t believe anyone should. The better I get, the more likely I am to reach my goals.
What about you? Are you scared of showing people your work? Do you wonder if your good ideas are only good in your head? How confident are you when you submit your work to a crit group? What stage of writing are you in? Brainstorming, first draft, revision, edits, querying, published? I’d love to here other people’s opinions on this.