I remember reading a blog by Tawna Fenske about exposing yourself. No, not that kind of exposing. It’s exposing yourself as a writer.
The whole point of writing is to have others read your work, or it should be, but it’s one of the scariest feelings in the world. There are several types of exposure which I’ll explain, but first you have to accept that you will be scared at each stage and I don’t think it matters how long you’ve been doing it. It will still scare you.
The critique – Critiquing is a necessary evil when you’re a writer. You’ve written a fantastic manuscript, edited it, revised it, and edited some more, but you can’t send it off with just your input. You wrote the thing and read it so many times you can quote 20,000 words by heart. You need a critique partner or a critique group.
These are scary because you’re giving it to someone and basically saying, “Tear it apart, make me bleed, and then make me smile about it.” Because that’s what it feels like when you see red marks, or track changes all over your lovely manuscript. But remember, it’s necessary and this is actually a good place to be because you can FIX it. Your manuscript has not gone into the big pond yet. You have time to improve and revise and edit and let someone critique it all over again.
Rejection – We talked about this last week. This is when you’ve handed your critiqued manuscript over to an agent or editor and they blast you with a rejection. If you want to know my views on this, go back to last week’s post.
There’s still a fear here though, especially when you’ve sent it to every agent or editor you think would like it. You start downing Pepto Bismol because you’ve hit a brick wall. The thing about brick walls though, is that you can climb over them or knock them down. There is a place for your manuscript. You may have to repeat the first stage of fear again, but you will find a home for it. Trust me.
The Review – this is the scariest part of exposure for me. I have four books out and…not a lot of reviews. When my 3rd book came out, it was out for two months before anyone looked at it. In fact, I had to send out a message to a group on Goodreads asking people to review it. I was sick to my stomach the entire time.
It’s a bit like the critique fear, but this time you can’t change anything. Your book is out there like the white elephant everyone’s trying to ignore and if they don’t like it, or something about it, well, you’re just out of luck. You’re stuck with it. For control freaks (like me), this is the hardest part of being a writer. I even had a nightmare about this dreaming that the reviewer e-mailed me and told me the book was so bad they couldn’t even post the review and I shouldn’t have gotten published because I was the worst writer they’d ever read.
Getting a good review helps ease that fear a little, helps me to ignore that sinking in my gut that says, “everyone’s going to hate it and they’re going to have a Danica Avet book burning”.
The thing is, writing is a scary endeavor because you’re actively asking people to tell you what they really think about your work. No, you didn’t send out a questionnaire, but people will tell you what they think whether you want to know or not. Trust me, I had a two-hour conversation with my brother-in-law about a month ago about why my books aren’t like John Clancy’s.