Thursday afternoon I sat down to work on that Rosetta Stone puzzle that I've been working on for a few months. I hadn't touched it in weeks, too many other things going on and so it just sat on the table where I dusted around the pieces and tried not to lose any. But Thursday I finally sat down to it again. And as I put in the first piece I thought, "The scariest part is..."and I had a blog idea. So I left the puzzle again and came in to the study to write that blog. But on the walk from the kitchen to the study I realized that if I posted a non-fiction blog after leaving a cliff hanger on a short story (which is really awful of me to do, I mean it's a SHORT story, there shouldn't be cliff hangers!) I should probably wrap that up first and then write the other one. So I did that instead.
Wrote quickly (as I do) posted it and then read it one last time realizing it was full of odd little errors so I was editing while the story was in the wild. Eek!
And then I realized that completely tied in with what I was going to write so it actually worked out fine. So Friday's blog was set.
Then I had lunch with a friend on Friday and it turned in to a 3 hour lunch (honestly could have been a few more but we shut the restaurant down!) and then by the time I made it back to this side of town it was time to pick up Brent and finish up a few things to get him ready for his trip to Germany so the blog got pushed again.
But during lunch with Marcy we talked about writing. I shared a story with her about the first story I let a lot of other people read. I've written about that before and how in today's society of "Oh won't someone think of the children!" I would have had a very unpleasant experience out of it. And even telling a quick version of it yesterday I realized it makes me sound completely crazy and slightly unhinged that I could think that up. And I have to admit that I think up much worse now. You've all read some of it. And some of you have been on the other side of a riffing session where we come up with more and more bizarre things. They are all in there. Just waiting for their own story.
But then that tied in with the blog I wanted to write on Thursday so that worked out as well.
Because the scariest part is...
Right after I hit publish.
It's that moment where the blog or story now is out of my hands and in yours. When it's not mine anymore but ours. Sometimes it takes a lot to get it from me to you. Sometimes it's just a few minutes. There is a varying amount of care that goes in to crafting a blog or a story. Some of them take ages of thinking on them. Working through feelings and ideas if it's a nonfiction piece. Figuring out what to name people in short stories. And also seeing if that one great line of dialog that popped in to my head is a story or isn't it? Is it part of something I'm already working on or is it a new direction?
And then there is that moment where I've been working on something, I go back to read it and realize that it's actually horrible. Not at all the brilliant piece that I had in my head. And why did I ever think that I could write in the first place. I swear to god my friends are all really nice or completely crazy when they pretend the shit I throw at the wall is art and....
And even that moment isn't as scary as when I hit publish.
Because all of that doubt and work is in my head right up until that point. Once I hit publish it's out there. Errors that I let slide and didn't notice that change the meaning of what I was trying to say. Names of characters that inexplicably change mid story. Ideas that might be a little off for most people. All of it. Now it's free. What will people say? Think? Do? Will they like it? Won't they? Do I really care? How much feedback do I need? What happens when I get rich and famous and the interwebs dissect my old blogs and discover that I held a deeply unpopular opinion and now must be driven off to a cave to die by myself....
It's a deeply personal thing when someone creates something and then shares it with others. I think that's why people tend to think of artists as slightly neurotic. When you are making something, making up something, painting, sculpting, sketching, writing, it's all you. You are giving people a look right inside your brain. That's really very personal. You are opening up your work to criticism. Which is opening up the very heart of who you are to criticism. You can't help but take it personally, it is personal. You can tell yourself that not every piece of art is for every person. Not everything I write is going to be your cup of tea. But that doesn't mean that I want you to tell me it's shit tea.
I always try to keep that in mind when I am looking at a piece of artwork, or readying a story, or listening to piece of music. Even if it's not for me, not my style, that doesn't mean it took any less for the artist to put it out there. To open themselves up to the judgement. Reviews on Amazon and Goodreads are enough to make any aspiring author run for the hills. Walking through a First Thursday showing of a new artist's work and listening to people who couldn't paint by numbers if they were spotted the primary colors talk about what drivel this or that painting is makes my blood turn cold. Because it's hard enough to put it out there. And I know that once I do you are free to tear it apart.
The scariest part is right now...