To share or not to share?

10:10 AM

That is the question.

I've always been rather hesitant to share my writing with others. Not my non-fiction, blogging, articles or thoughts. That's easy. I feel like I'm just giving my opinion on something, and I love to give opinions. ;)

But when it's fiction, something I created all in my own head, I get a bit frightened. It's not that I can't take criticism. As long as it's constructive, I welcome it. And I don't even fear total rejection by a publisher or agent (I've already had a small taste of it). I don't know them and I don't really care if they hate my stories. Whatever. I'll get over it.

But when someone I know is reading my work, it's an entirely different story, and there are two big fears that haunt me.

Fear number one is that my friends will read my work, hate it, and then assume that I could never write anything better. It's one thing to be told that a story needs a lot of work, but another thing to have a friend say, "This is never going to work out for you. Just give it up." (Of course I wouldn't actually take their advice and quit outright, but I think it would make me emotionally unstable for a while. ;)

The second fear is that those friends will see too much of me. When I am writing fiction, the process is intimate. I become engrossed in the story, the characters, and their emotions. Little bits and pieces of myself slip out and become a part of the story. And I'm afraid of people I know seeing those little bits and pieces. It feels as if they've dropped in unexpectedly, and I'm caught wearing gym clothes and a mop of very unwashed hair. It's a little bit disconcerting.

So, up until this point, the only ones who have read my past novels have been my mum and my sisters. (All of whom are very honest, sometimes harsh critics. I don't mind them seeing me in my gym clothes.) But that is going to change.

I'm in the midst of editing the first in a middle grade series (let's just call it LD for now, you'll find out more further down the road), and since I am planning on seeking an agent and pursuing publication for this work, I am going to let a bunch of my writer (and a few non-writer) friends read it. I want their advice and criticisms. It kind of freaks me out... but I am also a little bit excited. :)

About a year ago, one of my writer friends (the brilliant Lydia Albano, check out her work!) told me about Figment.com, a web site where you can share your writing, interact with friends and other aspiring writers, enter contests, and more. I visited a few times and finally signed up, but I have hesitated in posting any of my stories there. Even more than total rejection, I am afraid of some creep  stealing my work. So much so that I don't even want to reveal too many details about my projects here on the blog, or share titles, character names or anything. The internet is a scary place, and I'm not sure if I'm ready to put my stories out there.

So, here's a few questions for you all. First off, who do you share your stories with? Family, friends, strangers? Do you have any fears? Rejection, disappointment, others seeing an intimate piece of your mind? And secondly, do you post your work online? Part of me would love to share some bits and pieces of what I'm doing (and I've actually seen some well established, published authors do this), but the rest of me is afraid of being ripped off. :P

Please, share your thoughts, if not your own work! (And find me on Figment, if you're on there as well. ;)

-Amanda

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