To Boldly Go Where You Scarce Dare To Go

Writing is challenging enough–sharing your writing with others can be enough to turn a bold, confident individual into a gibbering ball of fear hiding under their desk.  And yet, it’s what we all want to do!  In the middle school writing club I lead each week, I’m reminded of this as the student writers gathered around me waffle on whether to share their work or not.  They pass it to me, wanting me to read it, then dash to get a drink rather than hear me read it aloud.  Or, they simply refuse to share it with the group…but want me to take a look at it later.  I don’t blame them–sharing what you’ve written is hard!

But, it’s also worth it.  Firstly, because I think for most writers, a reader outside of themselves is required in order for the writing to feel complete.  It’s not finished until it’s been read.

Secondly, it can be impossibly to know if what you’ve written succeeds at what you set out to do until you share it.  This is especially true with humor writing, like mine.  Did the reader laugh?  Did they even smile?  Or did they–gasp!–find it boring?

When writing NinChicks I didn’t initially breathe a word about my new project.  I’m not sure why…mostly because I needed to allow the idea to fully form in my own head before I put it out there to be buffeted and possibly blown away.  So one of the first people to read it–still raw and unrevised–was the judge of a writing contest where I sent it.

I know, rather like shielding it from a spring breeze, then tossing it into a gale-force wind!  But, it worked.  I took 3rd place in the SCBWI Carolinas writing contest.  You can see me wearing black, near the middle of the back row, between Tracy Adams, of Adams Literary and Jen McConnel.

SCBWI Raleigh May 2013 awards

Of course, by the time this pic was taken and the awards passed out, I’d entered a WriteOnCon pitch contest and ‘won’ in the agent’s room where I was assigned, which led to a request to read sample pages by another participating agent, which led to Christa offering representation–and my giddy yes!  But the funny thing is, I almost didn’t send my story into the contest, and I was quite sure nothing would come of the pitchfest so there wasn’t much point in participating.  But I was determined to boldly go.  Because these are the days of the Star Ship…

No, really, because there is simply no route I know to reaching the reader that doesn’t require the writer to boldly go.  So if you want to see them laugh, or know the spark of a new idea has lit a flame in their soul, you have to send it out.  You have to let them read.  And then you can all live long and prosper.


Hop around the other Tween the Weekends posts, and have a great Thanksgiving!


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