For far too long I’ve let perfectionism get in the way of sharing my work with others. When I know something isn’t perfect I don’t want to expose it to others for evaluation for fear if they see the flaws in the work, they will see the flaws in me. And there are many, many flaws. I imagine I’m not alone it this, but it feels like a lonely place.
But like a little bird that’s stayed too long in the cozy nest it’s time to see if my wings work. So last week I decided to be a little brave. I sent out my story (you know, the one I’ve been working on for forever) to 10 friends of various ages to read and give me feedback. It’s the first time I’ve sent to most of these folks so I’m nervously waiting to see what the responses will be– it’s a little painful and exciting at the same time.
My first attempt at letting people read my words was botched. In my naiveté I send my very rough first draft to a few people who shall remain nameless. And the response wasn’t all I’d hoped for. Only one even finished reading it I imagine because it was so rough. Hence the phrase, rough draft.
A note to aspiring authors: do not send your crappy first draft to people, especially people who love you or are related to you. They will hide from you and not read the whole thing and be afraid to tell you it sucks because they’ve seen how fragile you are with this writing thing. And if they aren’t writers they won’t know that all first drafts suck and it’s not an entirely accurate assessment of your abilities. They will simply think you suck as a writer, but they don’t want to tell you and Christmas will be awkward. But I digress. Just don’t do it.
So next week is the deadline for reading and submitting it back to me with suggestions and critique. Honestly, I’m flying by the seat of my pants here. I have no idea how to have a writing career and I feel very overwhelmed by everything I have to do these days to make it in the industry. The more I read the more I hyperventilate because I’m someone who is easily overwhelmed by details and if I feel like there’s too many to handle I shut down.
Right now I’m focusing on not shutting down. I’m reading blogs by writers, editors, and agents. Researching my genre and who is writing in it. But I feel like there is so much I don’t know and so much I don’t know I don’t know. And I wish I had a writing mentor right now, but I don’t. Or a writing group. But I don’t. I’m not exactly sure what that would look like over here…
Being brave for me right now is also showing up to the page five days a week, sometimes with weary eyes and no inspiration. But I’m in a good place, at least for today. I’ve decided that even if my beta readers think it’s terrible I won’t curl up under a desk and refuse to bathe for days. I’ll be all right. I don’t want perfectionism and impossible standards to keep me from doing what I love.
I’ve put writing aside before many times, but it always sneaks back into my life. Always. So I figure it’s time to stop hiding and put it all out there. Even if it’s terrible. And keep working at it so maybe some day it isn’t so terrible and might actually turn into something I’ve never expected.
So today, do you need to be a little brave in some area of your life? Do you need to launch out and try something you’ve always wanted to try but were afraid of rejection, failure or not being perfect? Or maybe you’re being brave right now in ways you never thought you could… chime in below and let me know.
Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.
― Winston Churchill