Nobody knew I wrote for years. Literally, years. I was super stealth about it, and somewhere, there is an old Vaio laptop with some terrible attempts at novels saved on it. Nobody but me has ever (or will ever) see those.
Becoming an author was a pipe dream, completely and utterly. Something that didn’t or couldn’t happen to someone like me. It remained that for years, and so, there was no reason to ever show anyone my writing or let them into that side of me. I wrote entirely for myself. To get stories that lived in my head onto paper, to create characters who lived lives I didn’t live and made decisions I’d never make and said things I was never brave enough to say, and to play with words.
I’m trying to remember the first piece of writing I ever showed anyone. I believe I showed a friend snippets of a contemporary novel I was working on, some six or seven years ago now. I pressed ‘send’ on the email containing the file and then did some frantic googling to see if there was any way to pull the file back, to pull my words back, to not risk being quite so vulnerable. But it was fine! She liked it! All was well, for a little while.
Until the next time I showed someone something I’d written. And the time after, and the time after, and… yeah, every single time I have shown anybody anything I’ve written. Every. Single. Time. I am never not terrified. I compare it to handing someone a baseball bat, closing my eyes, and waiting for them to hit me with it. Even the people I trust, the people who I know appreciate my writing and would never insult it.
Because that’s the thing. My plot, my characters, my worldbuilding? Critique away. If it is constructive and presented only with the intent to improve my story, I welcome it. But my writing, my use of words, my sentence structures and my love, my adoration, my obsession with the rule of threes (see what I did there?)… those are me. Those are as me as I get. That is who I am as a writer.
They say you need a thick skin to be in this industry, and I believe it. Because these are not just words on a page to me. These are pieces of my soul YES I KNOW IT’S CORNY but that’s how it feels. When I write, I am showing people a part of me that I do not wear out in the open. I am showing you what lives in my head, in my heart, and I don’t know, my stomach? I’m sorry, I needed a third thing there, damn you rule of threes.
Some of you have stumbled upon my other project, It’s Only Words. It’s an instagram account I keep to play with words more, to process emotions and events in my life/in the lives of those around me, and THE most vulnerable writing you will ever find from me because it is not hidden behind characters or in make-believe worlds. It took me a long time to reach the point of making that account public, a long time for me to connect it to my website, and an even longer time to actually point it out to anybody.
So, here. I am handing you each a baseball bat. And I am asking you not to hit me with it.
“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
– Ernest Hemingway