A friend and fellow writer recently addressed what many of us who write feel at various steps during our writing, wavering between adulation and abhorrent fear. What we put to paper, can spur one writer to press forward and stop another in their tracks. In this, I am guilty of both. On any given day you can find me frantically typing away on something new that I know will be the best anyone has ever written, or avoiding my writing area as if I’d catch some fatal communicable disease from just being in its vicinity I would venture that even those acclaimed authors have these irrational swings of emotions.
Many writers have the support of their families. Though my husband is considerate of my work, he is not a reader. I have a sister and niece who very kindly read anything I send their way. Both are avid readers and know what they like, what they don’t like, and are generally open to expressing that. But sometimes I wonder if they’re just being nice. I value their opinions because I’ve heard them both praise a work of fiction and tear it down for lack, yet still I worry they protect me. I have several people I’ve known since high school who give me feedback for content. They let me know if something in the plot doesn’t work. I need this support, those not involved in the writing world, those who simply like to read a good story. For me it helps that those from high school, have no real vested interest in me, personally. They’re honest people who I trust not to say something is good to spare my feelings.
Like many writers, I also have a writing group. A group of both men and woman who get together once a week to share are recent attempts and give feedback. For our group, we read a section of what we’re working on. As uncomfortable as it is for me to read my own writing aloud, it brings clarity that you can’t get from simple reading it to yourself. The advantage of a writing group is these people want to produce the best possible manuscript and can give me feedback because they know what works. They both help and hinder my attempts however. Typically what happens the day we’re to meet, is about a half hour before I’m to leave, I suddenly feel as if I’m wasting both my time and those of my group. We have some very talented people in our group with varied disciplines. I am in awe most days at their abilities. I will admit there have been days when I’ve declined to join them because I’m just not feeling as if I contribute anything worthwhile. That self-doubt taking a confident stand on my chest.
On the other side of this worthless feeling, is the adulation I leave with at the end of a meeting. These are talented people with a vast knowledge of the writing field. I value their opinion and though we sometimes aren’t in agreement on how to handle certain topics, they lift me up. There are meetings where I go home with more suggestions for edits than I’d like, but I only once in the year we’ve been meeting have I gone home feeling as if I have totally missed the mark. We support one another. We commiserate when one of us receives a rejection, and celebrate when one has a publication.
It’s been said that writing is a very solitary endeavor, and a great part of it is, but writers need writers and readers to attain the goal of being published. So I ask you, do you have a support system? Do you have readers? Do you have other writers who will help you meld your manuscript into the masterpiece we all know it can be? How do you handle rejections and more importantly, acceptance? What tricks have you learned to overcome that self-doubt? What suggestions can you offer new writers?
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