Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Idiot, party of one: The risk we take when we share our writing

As writers, we all know there is a certain calculated risk that comes with sharing your work with other people - writers and non-writers alike.

The biggest one, I think, is "What if they don't like it?"

Rejection can be tough, particularly if those people are friends or peers. Rejection is even harder when it comes from an agent or publisher. But, as writers, we know that this is part of the game and that we can't please every reader. Unpleasant as it is, it's all part of the process. We writers need thick skin, and if we don't start out with it, it's something that grows as time goes on and the rejections and criticisms pile up. And, of course, it makes the acceptance letter and the reader who says "I loved it!" that much more sweet when it comes along.

Another risk we take is this:

Somebody you trusted blowing your plot for other readers. Anyone had this one happen? I have. What makes it worse was that it came from a fellow writer in a critique group. Someone who should have known better.

FailWriter on my facebook: "I just got the part where [Character Name] dies."

Me: "Uh. Dude. Get that shit off my facebook."

FailWriter: "My bad, removed. I thought I was the only person who hadn't finished reading."

FailWriter was also the person who, when he hadn't finished reading my book, asked that we move on to his instead for the critique group.

I guess the long and short of this post is, we always take risks when we share our writing - be it for feedback, for publication, or for fun. In most cases, the good outweighs the bad, even if there are a few rotten apple morons in the bunch.

Oh, and never friend someone on facebook until rotten apple status is determined.


Lady Glamis said...

WOW, great post! I agree. It's so hard to share your work after you've put so much of yourself and work into it. I think that it helps us grow, though, and in the end, I'm always glad I shared. My writing wouldn't be where it is today with all the feedback I've received - good and bad.

Eric said...

Okay, thats a Doh! moment. Critiques require reading ability; intelligence is optional evidently.

M. Dunham said...

I... words fail me for Failwriter. Wow. Just wow.

scott g.f. bailey said...

I love having other people read my stuff, as long as all they tell me is that it's brilliant! Otherwise, even if the feedback is helpful, I'm miserable for a couple of days. But still, we all need feedback and it's hard to find readers we can trust. I've never had that experience with your Failwriter. Some people are just pains.

I'm currently giving feedback to a couple of writer friends, and I always worry about my style of criticism. I tend to be pretty blunt and as honest as I can be, both with praise and not-praise. I have no idea how much I'd like getting critiqued by me. I try to be gentle, but sometimes I find myself saying, "Dude. Seriously. WTF is this?" But I try to keep that private.

The Screaming Guppy said...

@Eric - I know right? Who knew!


Yeah, getting a tough crit can rain on your parade for sure. But I think the sign of a serious writer is the ability to recongnize the importance of all critism.

I'm the same way. My crits are very detailed, very honest and also very blunt. Maybe we should swap some stuff, and see if we can handle our own medicine! Haha! >:)

Litgirl01 said...

Cat is too funny!

It helps to know that rejection is just a part of it!

Windsong said...

Very true. I think both sharing my work and my critiques of others' work is like being asked to give a five minute dissertation on a complicated mathematical formula. In public. Three seconds before you're supposed to give it.

People can sometimes mask their own insecurities in the strangest of ways.

Dominique said...

This post was really good. It made me smile. I think there's a special dark, sad place in this world or the next for folks who ruin the ends of books.

The only think I might say by way of reformation is about your use of the word retarded. Despite its use in popular vernacular to mean anything or anyone stupid or annoying, the word retarded does refer to a serious mental condition. Simply throwing the word around and giving it a negative connotation can be insulting and offensive to some readers. I sure you did not intend it this way, however. I point this out in an effort to be helpful.

The Screaming Guppy said...

No offense intended, Dominique. Swapped it out for Idiot.

Though I did wonder if FailWriter had a serious mental deficiency.

Davin Malasarn said...

I've never had that happen to me. It's sort of funny, but it's also really annoying.

Still, it's so essential and helpful to have reviewers, that the good still outweighs the bad.

I'm fine with critique for the most part. The only tie I get down is when I think I've written something perfect and people remind me that I'm far from perfection. For some reason that lesson doesn't stick.

Crimogenic said...

It was hard to share my work in the beginning, but as I'm a old rat now, it's easier. However, I don't like to share work when I don't have time to at least consider and perhaps incorporate suggestions while their fresh with me.

Shame on your critique group member!