Friday, September 9, 2011

The Most Interesting Thing--Mustering Courage

 "Everyone has a talent, what is rare is the courage to follow the talent to the dark place where it leads."   
 --Erica Jong

The most interesting thing I've learned this week is that to be a writer, one has to be tremendously brave. Posting Wednesday's Flash Fiction piece took more courage than I ever imagined I could muster.

A lovely friend of mine, who is a musician and fine artist, once explained that "sharing one's art is like undressing in front of a group of strangers and asking them what they think."

That pretty much sums it up for me. So why do I share my writing? One thing that emboldens me to submit my work, is the belief that there's someone out there who needs to read it.

So what helps you muster the courage to share your work with strangers?  

49 comments:

  1. Once I decided I had to follow the imperative to write in order to be happy, the response to the first story I read in my critique group gave me the courage to keep going. I write memoir/history short stories primarily. My group went off on a tangent (which they never do) remembering their own childhoods. The looks on their faces convinced me that I was doing the right thing. :)

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  2. That's an excellent reason, Ruth. Critique groups can be so much help.

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  3. Sharing your writing IS scary! Even with critique partners sometimes. What encourages me to share my writing is it's a way for it to strengthen. If writing sits only on my computer for my eyes, it only has one view, one opinion. When I share, my writing can grow.

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  4. That's a great point, Barbara. Courage equals growth.

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  5. There's always a bit of anxiety when sharing new work, but I find it more difficult to share it when I'm meeting face-to-face, say, with a critique group. Online, I feel a little more bold because the anonymity is still there to a degree. Regardless, sharing your work will most often result in better writing if you're getting constructive criticism from readers/critiquers.

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  6. Sometimes sharing is terrifying, but sometimes it's thrilling, and I have so many eager readers, I can't wait to get home and figure out the next bit. As you say, that's why we write anyway.

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  7. I love that Jong quote, it's one of my faves! I'm like Barbara in my reasoning - you learn so much from critique

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  8. Dawn--face-to-face is definitely harder. No wonder authors are often terrified of book readings.

    Anne--Yes, the thrill of bringing others pleasure is a rush.

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  9. Jennifer--you have to bare and share to grow ^_^

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  10. I am always afraid when posting a story. I care too much what others might think, how they might feel. I need thicker skin. lol

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  11. Miranda, it's good to care how others think and feel, but yes, thick skin is helpful. I say I have it, but do I really?

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  12. I find it very hard to share my work, no matter how rough or polished it might be.

    These campaign challenges are good for me. They make me stop procrastination and share.

    It's scary to show someone something you created. It's a part of me, that people can poke and prod at - can pick apart. But sometimes it's necessary for us to share - not only for ourselves, but for the people who might find a fraction of something they seek in it.

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  13. K.T.--Yay for the challenges! It's hard to be poked and picked apart. At least the commenters for the challenge are encouraging.

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  14. Your flash fiction piece was beautiful and brave. And I love this quotation. I think one of the things that drives me to be open and honest not only with my writing but with my life is a need to be truly human. To feel EVERYTHING.

    People might say I talk way too much and get too personal, but there are truths that have been obscured by abuse that I cannot let go. So I share. I don't want anyone not to see the real me, so I put it out there.

    With my writing, when I'm waiting for someone to read it, I brace myself as if I'm jumping into the arctic waters. I take each comment, critique, and occasional compliment (haha) as confirmation that I still have growing to do. I simply cannot give up and be numb and stand still. I must grow. I must feel.

    After I swim around for while, those icy waters warm up a bit. So I swim deeper, push my boundaries a little further.

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  15. Mary Ann--That was not too long! I love your icy water analogy. Thanks for being real.

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  16. and not just in sharing our work. We have to be brave when we write and not scared by what readers might think.

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  17. Laura--Excellent point. It takes courage to avoid self-censoring.

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  18. I like this post - it's a topic which affects all of us! My approach to sharing my work is to view it along the same lines as starting a new exercise routine. At first it hurts and the pain can last a few days. But over time, the pain goes away and we become STRONGER as we get to the next level.

    And with writing, there are SO many levels :)

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  19. Annie--Yet another great analogy. Thank you!

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  20. I don't know if I'm brave, but I want to be. Great post! Love the lion!

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  21. What helps me muster the courage to share my work? Anais Nin said it better than I ever could, in her poem "Risk:"

    And then the day came,
    when the risk
    to remain tight
    in a bud
    was more painful
    than the risk
    it took
    to Blossom.
    --Anais Nin

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  22. Jenn--One of my favorite poems. Thanks for sharing it for everyone ^_^

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  23. Very proud of you!! And yeah, love the poem that Jenn left. Gorgeous.

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  24. Girl Parker--Thanks for the encouragement. Always.

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  25. What gives me the courage to keep going?

    The belief that I can do this. That I have the power in me; I just need to use it.

    The knowledge that I need to keep learning, keep improving, and I won't learn anything by keeping it to myself.

    The desire to be a storyteller. And how can I be that if I don't share my stories?

    Yay you for putting your stuff out there. That's courage in spades.

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  26. Thanks, L.S. I appreciate your spirit. Write on!

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  27. Apart from the piece I wrote in ten minutes for this challenge, I haven't shared anything yet. Soon.

    And Angelina, I thought yours was the most powerful piece I read, and I read a lot of them.

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  28. Sarah--Thank you. And great job being brave posting the flash fiction. Best wishes for future sharing.

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  29. HI, Angelina,

    It's so nice to finally meet you. Thank you so much for dropping by my blog while I was vacationing. Now that I'm back, I will visit you often.

    I really liked your post today. Courage is definitely needed in writing. With SO much talent amongst us it is important for us to be brave enough to share.

    What I've learned in my few years of writing and my first year of blogging is that this community is AWESOME!

    It is so supportive, enlightening, caring, and an amazing learning experience. We all need to learn, grow, and face each challenge and fear with great courage, determination, and perseverance.

    I am so proud of you that you made that first leap into fate with posting your challenge. Congratulations. You are a writer.

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  30. Michael--Thanks. I enjoyed sharing your road trip. And yes, the blogging community is awesome.

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  31. I'm so glad you did muster the courage, because you're right, there are always people that will appreciate it.
    I think reading others stories about writing and reading the actual stories gives me courage to do it. I still cringe as I hit the send button each time though. It's so dang hard!

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  32. Great topic! I am the same way. I continue to share my writing because I know it's helping people. Part of it is also a deep desire to be understood and I'm not able to express myself in any other way.

    I have frequent dreams about being out in public naked, realizing I've forgotten my clothes after I'm outside, etc. Must be related!

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  33. Deanna-- Keep pushing the button! When you're work is ready, of course.

    Ruth--I think many of us have that same desire to be understood. Thanks for sharing that.

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  34. lovely quote.

    Thanks for inspiring.

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  35. There are so many wonderful comments, quotes, and thoughts in this list!

    It is a great topic, because I think it is shared by all artists, at least at first.

    Fellow Historical Fiction Campaigner here; it's nice to read your blog, and I will be back!

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  36. Morning--you're welcome

    Elizabeth--Nice to meet you. I will have to go find you on yours.

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  37. Very interesting thing to ponder.... In part, I've worked to convince myself that if a story means something to me, it will surely mean something to someone else. If I've spilled my heart onto the page, I have to believe it will connect with someone, that somewhere there's a person who needs to hear exactly what I've said, to know they're not alone, to know someone out there "gets" them. I hope that's true, cuz that "like getting naked" analogy? Totally what it feels like!

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  38. I'm struggling to find an answer. I think mum built up my self-esteem to such a degree ego makes me think I can achieve anything. It certainly doesn't prevent those nerves though.

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  39. Coming in late, as usual, on this thread.

    I worked as a craftsperson for years and got rejected from so many shows that I really stopped being effected by it. It has served me well as a writer.

    I guess I choose to share because so many have shared before me. Someone had to be willing to put their babies into the world so I could get lost in their pages.

    And now I share, because others share back and we get to learn and grow from each other. I'm always amazed at how the particular knowledge of any author really makes their stories unique. I love when I'm reading something and learn new things, see things in a different way, look at the world through new eyes. That wouldn't be possible if authors weren't brave.

    I've loved reading all the responses. Thanks Angelina.

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  40. Great question, Angelina, I guess for me the need to write and then find out what others do think and to create a dialogue is greater than my fear they won't like what I've exposed :)

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  41. JRo, your explanation is wonderful. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

    Sharon--It is great when our needs are greater than our fears. Great point.

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  42. Ha, love your friend's quote. The more I share my work, the easier it gets.

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  43. I believe that someone will be entertained or enlightened by what I write.

    It is scary. Sometimes I feel like I'm not wearing armor and that I'm overly exposed.

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  44. Medeia--Another excellent way of putting it. Thank you.

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  45. "sharing one's art is like undressing in front of a group of strangers and asking them what they think." must be one of the truest definitions I've ever read. It's scary to share art. But why do I still do it? I don't know, I have a compulsion to do it. I have a need to tell the story. And I guess there's no better feeling than when you realize that the reader really enjoyed it.

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  46. Daina--Well put. Telling stories does fill a need and you're so right, when readers enjoy that's golden.

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