I just sent a query to a writing blog about writing a guest post (in response to their call for guest writers). I’m excited and happy because, even if I don’t get accepted, I’ve done something that I’ve been afraid of and that is exactly what I’ve been striving for this year – to get past my fears, to get past my illness and move forward. To accept rejection as a part of life but also as something positive, not negative. After all, one can’t be rejected unless one lets down the walls and stands naked (or just partially unclothed to start) before the world.
BUT – isn’t there always a but? – I’m extremely nervous. After all, writing about writing means that I believe that I have something to say about writing that will teach or inspire someone else. And that, my friends, requires a certain amount of self-confidence. It requires me to move past being solely a student of writing. I say solely because one never, or should never, stop learning. So the question remains…am I qualified to make such a step?
I want to at least try. I recently gave a small presentation to a group about writing and selling short stories. It was well received as I was given many compliments but boy, was I scared the entire time (in addition to technical writing, I teach adults how to do their jobs for a living so I can’t blame it on stage fright). All eyes were on me as if I had the magic formula for publishing stories. Really I just tried to provide solid commonsense advice and make the process a little less like a maze with a minotaur waiting for them at the end. One or two of the group had published and they complimented me at the end so obviously I did something right.
Does this and a few small writing credits make me qualified? I guess one way to answer that question is to say that we learn something even from the worst teachers. Now that answer does not inspire much confidence I know. But it is still the truth. The short of the matter is that I’ll never know if I have anything worthwhile to say or teach unless I try. And if I try and fail once or twice, or many times, I will have learned something each time. Experience is a great teacher.
Like the crew of the Enterprise, in all its various incarnations, I will boldly go.
I just did one of the most nerve-wracking things – I sent off the latest story to the critique group. Sending off a piece for publication consideration rates slightly higher on the nerve-wracking scale but not by much. Originally, I had been proud of the story as I began it. I even had a title for it. But as I dragged out the writing of the story, going for days in between sessions, the story lost something. Maybe a little of the voice of the protagonist, but definitely something of the plot. I had intended it to be a detective story (not something I normally write) with a touch of the supernatural. It still has something of that but the thread of the mystery is a little blurred and some other elements I had not expected crept in.
I think this may be as good an argument as any for writing every day (or at least as much as possible), especially when the writer is in the middle of a writing project. Without steady concentration on the work at hand, the writer runs the risk of losing some of that original inspiration and even enthusiasm. In the past, I have taken breaks from other pieces and completely lost the voice and had to give up a perfectly good story because I couldn’t retrieve that initial “spark.” That’s not to say that I’ve been able to finish every piece I’ve ever started. I’ve begun many pieces that just never came together no matter how work I put into them. However, I do think that any piece of writing stands a better chance of completion if the writer works on it consistently.
I still have some hope for this story. There were a few plot lines that i did not pursue since it was a short story. I like the main character and he seemed to feel more real every time I wrote about him. There were things in his past that I think are important to tell. A secondary character, who was not supposed to have more than a quick scene, become more important to the story than I thought she would be. If this story gets somewhat passing good comment on it, I think a month’s straight work on it might actually turn it into a decent novella.
So there it stands for now. It’s out there. I feel a bit exposed as I always do when I know someone is reading something I wrote. And it’s going to get worse. I have two or three other pieces that are ready to be sent out. My assignment for this week is to send them out. Nerve-wracking doesn’t begin to describe it but I feel more at peace with my writing than I have for a long time.