Monday, March 29, 2010

Trying something new

I have long been a secret writer - my fiction closely held to my chest, priable away from only my dead fingers, I imagined. But over the past couple of years I've been "coming out" - first admitting that I write fiction, then, gasp, sharing it with other people. Eventually these people included folks other than my husband.

But, aside from the short fiction I publish here, it's still been pretty close-hold. Then I joined a writing group. Strangers? Reading my pathetic little scribblings? Gulp. However, since I've been purged in the fire pit known as Work and The Review Process, I got used to it.

Lately, I crossed a more vertigo-inducing bridge: showing the first chapters of my work-in-progress before I had written the whole thing and edited the heck out of it. It felt a little strange to even consider the first chapters, since as I don't currently know how the book ends I can't be sure how I want it to start. But, wisely or not, I'm submitting those chapters for professional review at a conference I'm going to (another first!) and the deadline was approaching. I needed feedback, I knew it, so I gulped and sent out a few pages.

Well, I didn't die. The experience was actually a bit encouraging - people liked where I was going with the story, liked the characters. That was good to hear. I'm still not sure I won't scrap the whole thing, and it feels a little weird to have people (including my husband) know what my story's about while I'm still writing it, but I'll deal.

How do other people handle this? I imagine it has to do with how private you are in general, and how much about yourself you share in any category. But if we take the icy plunge to show early material, is it more helpful or hurtful? Could it end up being writing by committee or a guiding hand when you most need it?

4 comments:

The Alliterative Allomorph said...

I feel really reluctant to show 1st drafts to anyone other than professionals. Only becasue they understand what a first draft means. If I were to let a friend read my first draft they'd think I was a terrible writer and wouldn't know how to tell me. My writing has to get to at least 3rd before I let anyone read it. My 1st and 2nd drafts get read by either a published author or writing mentor. :) So you're not alone!

Carrie C said...

You're lucky to have those mentors! Since I'm just coming out into the writing world, I have my critique group and that's it! But someday. It's nice to know you share the sense of privacy, though.

Rowenna said...

Go you! I loved meeting with a writing group, but they meet so far away it's hard for me to make the committment to three hours worth of driving :( I tend to like to polish a bit first...partially for the reason you mention, that I don't want my decisions too guided by "groupthink." And I'd be embarased lol! I think, however, my biggest hurdle is showing non-writer friends my work. That terrifies me! Only one very dear friend has read the entirety of the novel I (gulp) finished.

Carrie C said...

I know what you mean - it is scary! But eventually we want our stuff read, right? I've gained a lot by having my work writing torn to shreds. It's not the same as having my fiction edited to heck, but at least it gives me some practice in not being totally reduced to tears :) So maybe try with smaller pieces and get used to having people critique them?

Princess Nijma

Princess Nijma