I originally wrote this as a guest post for The Elliot Review as part of my blog tour, but wanted to upload it here for those of you who may have missed it. I wrote it with fellow writers in mind. I hope you'll be encouraged by it! Best wishes for a happy new year!
I’ll start by saying every step toward Saving Elizabeth’s publication has been a milestone – a smoothing of the rough edges each writer begins his journey with, but there are many rough edges yet to be smoothed. I’m not convinced there will ever come a time when any of us step back, look at ourselves in the mirror and think there’s no sand papering needed … no growth left to do. As a matter of fact, one of my jagged edges, “fear of man,” recently reared its ugly head during the publication of Saving Elizabeth. As much as I’d like to tell you otherwise, what people think or say means a lot to me….more than it probably should. People -pleasing was ingrained in me at an early age, and for as long as I can remember, I’ve done my best to make everyone happy, despite how unhappy living up to others’ expectations may have made me. I’m a perfectionist, to say the least, but I’m also a very passionate person who wears her emotions on her sleeve. When combined, those two character traits can create a wonderful novel. Unfortunately, they can also create a doubtful, nervous author who’s sometimes afraid of reading reviews. I imagine I’m not alone in these character traits. Have you ever been afraid to share your writing with others?
I thought so.
I wish I could give you an easy solution that would erase your fears. Someone once said that when a writer screams at the page, the reader only hears a whisper. How true that is! Writers are passionate people by design. Our emotions must lie close to the surface in order for us to easily tap into them and create something that moves readers. We feel deeply, which means rejection often crushes us to the core. There’s no built in emotional switch that can be flipped on when it’s time to write, and then flipped off when our work is finally presented to the world. We must realize we are who we are. Our work is beautiful, regardless of what others have to say about it. It always has been, and always will be because essentially, it’s us on the page. It’s our thoughts, our ideas, our emotions, our desires that make up our stories, and what right does anyone have to tell us that we are not beautiful? At a recent writing conference, Tosca Lee shared this quote by Marianne Williamson. “Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be?”
Translation? When you shove your writing in a drawer because you’re afraid of what people will say, remember, you and your writing are both brilliant. Keep dreaming. Keep writing. Keep bleeding on the page despite what others might think. A few may not be ready for it, but there are others out there who NEED to hear your stories. Happy writing!