Give the Gift of Your Writing in 2011

Are you a closet writer, someone who feels the pull to share or submit your work but also feels shy or embarrassed or downright terrified at the thought of doing so? What is it we are afraid of hearing? This isn’t good enough. In fact, it’s not any good at all. Who do you think you are, anyway? Do you really think you are a writer? And whom do we hear saying those negative thoughts? Ourselves.

Even veteran writers struggle with the psychological process of submissions, as Author Laura Munson wrote recently in a blog post, “The Agony of Submissions“:

“[T]those old questions clamor in my mind: why would they want to publish MY work in the first place? Haven’t I had enough therapy to know that I have self-worth issues? Doesn’t a New York Times bestselling book make me immune to these inner saboteur-esque questions? Apparently not.”

If this is a familiar struggle, Richard Russo offers a different perspective on sharing your writing in his introduction to The Best American Short Stories of 2010. He writes of the authors whose short stories he read and chose for the anthology:

“[W]riters may have begun by writing for themselves… but in the end they turned outward, offering us the gift of what they’d crafted with such care, hoping we’d be pleased.”

We read because what we read in some way touches and enriches our lives, in big ways and small. But we can’t read what isn’t offered. Every time you read a novel, short story, article, poem, first draft for critique, handwritten letter, and even a blog post you can think of how someone else chose to give the gift of those words to you, and sometimes the first step was taking the risk of submission. The first step is part of the gift.

Whether you are seeking publication or agent representation or just a blog audience, try overcoming your natural fear of rejection by thinking of your words as a gift that may please some (some is enough) readers. Offering that gift is an act not of hubris but of humility and generosity.

Then go back to your work table. Do not wait for a thank you note. Congratulate yourself for having given what is most important and unique to give: yourself. And, without missing a beat, create more gifts.

4 thoughts on “Give the Gift of Your Writing in 2011

    • Kelsey, thank you! I’m happy with the new blog design, too. I hope 2011 has begun smoothly for you. Alas, I’m back to teaching tomorrow (ah, the downside of being on a tri-quarter system).

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