Writer Support: Do I get to wear a cup?

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Self-explanatory…

My fellow bloggers, avid readers, and wordies – I’ve been working on a body of short stories to publish this fall. I’m so excited, but terrified! There are things I have no clue how to do and yet I know somehow I’m going to figure it out. I’ve had great support from some of my writer friends, and many of you have given advice, encouragement and references to help me along the way. And that’s the point of this post.

I’ve been involved in community projects before, I’ve worked as a leader in a church group and participated in work projects that required a group effort but never have I found a more supportive bunch of folks than I have found in the writing community. Never have I felt more proud to be amongst a group of people than my fellow writers. And I’ll admit to something on this point – It took me a while to call myself a ‘writer.’ I knew it in my heart and my head but to say it out loud, to proclaim it publicly has been a big deal for me.

I’ve taken a little scorn over some of my writing and all of it has come from the people I care about the most, but I am the writer I am. I will not apologize for my writing anymore to anyone. I’ve struggled for years with suppressing my writing voice, for fear of what others might think or how some people might react. I’m over it.

I worked with a wonderful woman years ago that wasn’t always fond of the women her son dated and she used to say this to him: “If you can sleep with it, I can walk beside it.” I love this because it doesn’t mean she has to embrace the women in her son’s life but she’ll support her son no matter what. So my twisted writer’s take on this for my family and friends who have ‘difficulty’ with some of my subject matter, I have a suggested motto for you to adopt and say to me: “If you can write it, I can read it.”  Or at the very least, buy my book and pretend you read it.

Scott Morgan over at WriteHook gives the advice to “write for the jugular.” He’s also editing my body of short stories before I publish them and has been very influential in my new-found confidence to be fearless with my writing. In no uncertain terms via his blog, online classes and in general discussion I’ve heard his message loud and clear: Grow a pair!  Many thanks to you Scott.

How about you guys? Do you ever struggle over the material you write? Does anyone give you grief over it? Do you have some new work coming out soon you’d like everyone to know about?  Please share…

For those of you needing protective gear for your new-found set, check out WikiHow

By the way, Scott Morgan has a new book called Tryptic available at Amazon.com

Image: courtesy of Microsoft ClipArt

47 responses »

  1. My first book is only days away from being available to the world so I very much understand many of your feelings.

    I have gone with the approach of only showing a select group of people that I trust. Or I go with the belief that my writing is worth it and worthwhile so it must be published.

    Or I oscillate between the two feelings!

  2. Oh, how I can relate to this post! Please eventually buy my book and pretend you’ve read it is the mantra I repeat in my head to friends and family.

    I don’t write about things that are too gritty or difficult to take, but I get advice from others about what I should be writing about. It’s difficult to explain that I already have my own ideas about what to write, thank you very much. “Hey–I had this great idea for your next novel…” It starts to sound like they’re not too impressed with the subject matter I chose on my own. ; )

    Best wishes with your collection of short stories. Very exciting!

  3. Nervousness — indeed. When it’s in print, the target is placed and everything is open to criticism…good and bad. But on the other hand, that’s also the exciting part as it furthers genres, topics, and opens doors to richer uplands…whether the author ends up knowing it or not.

  4. Great post, Sheila. I think writers (and yes, each day I, too, am getting a little more comfortable addressing myself that way, though not out loud to others 😉 ) can hinder themselves if they worry what others will think about something they write, particularly people they know. I was hesitant with a few passages I wrote in my book and thought, “What will people think?” But then I read an interesting passage in Stephen King’s “On Writing.” I can’t remember it exactly, but it had something to do with not letting that worry of what others will think keep you from writing what seems most natural in a certain situation, even if it might offend. He points out that the minute you do this, you’re no longer writing honestly. You need to present characters as they would appear in the real world, even if they are a foul-mouthed lowlife or a sexist pig. It’s good advice, I think.

    • It’s great advice. I want to write believable people in my stories, relatable, even if they are what some would call terrible or void of decency if they are what’s called for in the story. You definitely need to start calling yourself a writer ‘out loud’ by the way 🙂 It might be time to admit it, lol.

  5. sheila i feel a lot or your sentiments as to wanting and become a writer. first and foremost as those that are close to me, don’t share in this jugglar view that i do only because it’s not the sure way to make a buck. nevertheless i do have a couple that are not into writing that appreciate what i do. it took me a little while to really say that i was a poet but felt i was a poet. the community here is a wonderful bunch of people that have goal directives in what they want to accomplish. that i truly appreciate immensely because it pushes me. i will say that even though i have my local activities going, it’s not an everday thing. here it is. certainly when your short stories come out, i’ll be right there for you. as to my next venture – my next chapbook will be called “cool out of the rafters” and i’ve got to wait to accumulate some funds and find the right small press to do it. anyways, keep writing sheila and never stop:)))

  6. I write gritty stories, some are gruesome. So I guess I grew some (balls) too, because I write what I want, topic wise. I have heard from people who have just the thing for me to write, i.e. their idea, their story. No thanks, I’m not waiting around for people to give me ideas, mine are overflowing.

    You will never please everyone, there will always be someone who doesn’t like what you write or are offended. Such is life. I am writer, hear me roar. Well, read me roar… 🙂

  7. Sometimes we need full armor! It doesn’t really matter what you write, someone will not like it. I won’t make a judgment because this is my first reading of your writing, lol. Blessings on the upcoming book, and thanks for stopping by my writing blog. Angie

    • Yes, full armor indeed! Thanks for stopping by and your comments are welcome. I suppose I can’t blame some of the people I’ve known for years for being a bit surprised when they read some of my work. They had no idea what was lurking behind these green eyes all this time 🙂

  8. Compromises in your writing have to be made for your sake and never anybody else’s. You’re out there to write your books, not the vision of whoever it is you might be speaking to at one point.

    It’s important that you take all criticism, both the good and the bad. This, believe it or not, entails knowing that you might be criticized by the wrong person and for the wrong reasons. More often than not –at least from my own experience–, criticism will come from half-baked assumptions people have made about your work.

    You must still nod and thank the person, even if deep inside you know they’re mistaken. It’s part of being humble. You must never dismiss criticism based on your judgment of a person, however correct it may be.

    • As always, I welcome your comments 🙂 When the criticism comes from family/friends I feel like it’s sometimes not so much a judgement of the work but a judgement of the writer and that’s probably to be expected since there is a loss of objectivity. And you are so correct in that many of the criticisms come from half-baked assumptions of the work. Thanks so much for your insight!

  9. That’s a great blog post. I don’t know why it always seems hard to confidently say to someone I’m a writer. It seems almost like it’s not a ‘real’ job in some people’s eyes. The thing that has really given me confidence is going to uni and studying creative writing as a degree coz I’m amongst like-minded people and we have to pump out lots of writing with deadlines. It has challenged my creativity heaps and I love it. I think being part of a writer’s group of some sort is essential. That is where a writer can get support coz it is unfortunate that friends can be waiting to find out what your ‘real’ career goal is!

    I have also learned through different experiences that you have to follow who you really know is you, what brings you alive as a person, what excites you, inspires you – that’s what you are meant to be doing – not something else that someone else thinks is good.

    I relate to everything you are saying – from another person who is a lover of words and passionate about writing!

    My first ebook short story is called ‘Beyond Skies and Plains’ and is available at Smashwords.com.
    Good luck with your short stories – I’d love to read some.

    Best wishes,
    Debbie

    • Hi Deborah: Thanks so much for stopping by and sharing your thoughts. It’s always nice to be in touch with fellow wordies and those who truly appreciate the craft of writing. Best wishes with getting your degree and with the book! 🙂

  10. I think we’ve touched on this with a few of our comments on each others blogs, but yes, you should write what is there, and others can deal with it as they will. You might be letting something good, never be seen if you don’t. There is this thing that some people (especially ones you know) might thing you are writhing certain things to be shocking or raise offence, or some such, but that is often not the case at all. Writing can be about anything and that includes being challenging in some ways.

    On a separate note, but slightly related, I had this idea for a story which is a bit more fantasy (although somewhat grounded in some ways), and not my normal thing at all. I jotted the notes down and the idea stuck with me. I’ve worked on it a lot more, and details seem to be flowing out. I’m about to start writing this one. So what I’m getting at is sometimes if you have an idea and it seems to be alive, you need to explore it some more and see where it leads you.

    • Yes we have touched on this subject – it’s finally come to a place where I’ve made a decision on the matter for myself. Exploring ideas is one of the amazing gifts of writing in my opinion. Sometimes we go down the rabbit hole a bit but so what? Isn’t it fun sometimes? How else would Alice have ever discovered Wonderland to begin with? Good luck with your story! 🙂

      • Well I’m happy for you. To put it into somewhat cliche but appropriate terms, you’ve had a bit of a journey, arrived somewhere, and learnt some things on the way.

        When I wanted to get the writing bug back and started my current blog, I decided up front to try some things I wasn’t familiar with e.g. poetry, and just see what happened. I’m not as bothered for whether anyone finds the subject matter offensive although that didn’t stop some of the disclaimers! But the blog has opened up a few things I never expected, and built confidence in a few areas where it was needed. It was a good kicking off point for me, and as you point out, the whole community aspect aids in a number of different ways that are also somewhat unexpected. The people you come into contact with, their experience or advice and a whole lot more.

  11. Oooh boy. Do I know this!
    My book is probably a year away from self-pub (longer if I can find a trad publisher), but the subject matter is also gritty.

    My elderly aunt won’t be able to read it, and my second cousins will be appalled.

    Part of me just doesn’t care. My character told me that he was a sex addict, so there you go. Craziness.

    I don’t know if my skin is thick enough. I guess I’ll find out!

    • I hear you loud and clear. I wonder if there is as much of an issue for male writers as female writers when it comes to gritty subject matter and family members – also I wonder if it’s different in different areas of the country say the Bible belt (where I am) vs. the Northeast. Good luck to you on your book! 🙂

  12. Haha, yes, I’ve been writing poetry for over ten years, and memoir and other creative pieces for about half as long, and STILL, every time I refer to myself out loud as a “writer,” I sort of cringe and duck, lest the Writing Police smite me for my hubris. You go girl! Keep it up 🙂

  13. All the time. You hang in there sister. It’s so hard to put your baby out there (your writing) for all to see and face the critics. It’s tough, it hurts, but it makes you a stronger writer.

    Congrats on the short story collection!!

  14. I really understand worrying about how the audience will take something I have written. I used to rein myself in, not because of what the story needed, but because I was afraid of what certain people who read it might think of it. At some point, you just have to be yourself though, right? Good luck on your book! 🙂

  15. Just an update. I have posted a blog about getting that first physical copy of my first book (I know lots of firsts in there). So many bad feelings evaporate the moment you look at a book and see you own name on it. All of you, please stick at it. It is worth the trip.

  16. I’m sure you’ve heard this before but don’t write to please others; don’t write to please your editor. Write to please yourself and you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

    And once you’re published, tell people if they liked your work to write an online review somewhere and tell their friends. And if they don’t like it? Shut up. 🙂

  17. Sheila,
    What happens if you make it all the way to your scheduled baseball game, and when you get there, you realize you forgot to pack your cup along with the rest of your uniform?

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