July 25, 2002

Open Wide

No, this post isn't about dentistry. It's about exposing yourself like a Times Square flasher when you're a writer. I made a similar post on the now defunct version of Rob's Writing Pains. This will probably be an ongoing theme as I work on the latest WIP since I'm forced to post work on the class board over at Holly's site. What part of me did I bear this time? My twist ending I talked about in the last post. I rewrote my premise for the class and included it, along with the increased stakes and all that. Though Beth said she loved the idea for the ending, I'm not sure how anyone else will react. I mean, as honest as Beth tries to be, she's still on my side and tends to think a lot the same way as I do. We do live together after all.

Anyway, I could have played it safe, held onto my idea for the ending, maybe even left it out completely. But playing it safe isn't what writing's about. You can't always be afraid that your ideas suck. Maybe some of them do. So what? You have to get through the suck to get to the gold. On average I have sucky ideas. But inevitably they lead to better ones. And I consider myself good at coming up with ideas. Still, this is one of those leaps of faith, where you think you know what you've got is good, but you're afraid to put it out there because it isn't what's expected, it isn't the standard progression, it isn't safe.

I guess, I've had such a good response to this project so far, I'm afraid with this, everyone will see me for the fraud I am. I don't pretend I'm the only writer who feels this way. I've heard this story told a hundred times. Why is it many of us writers must constantly live with this kind of fear? Perhaps the self-doubt is what drives us to improve. Nothing is ever good enough. But eventually -- and this has been my problem for years now -- you have to decide it is good enough and let it out for others to see. You can't make all the judgments. No writer is so good, so objective, that he knows when he's written a perfect story (if there is such a thing). That's why there's critics to jump on a writer every time he slips. Or why some of us use crit groups or show our stuff to our significant others.

It doesn't change the fact that I'm afraid of what they'll think of my idea. It doesn't sate the dread over going to the class board and seeing what's been said. I'm just trying to take comfort in knowing I'm not alone. And if you thought, having these same feelings, you were alone...now you know better.

'Nuf said.