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Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Writing: Putting Your Soul on the Line

Sharing what you've written is like exposing a piece of your soul to the world. You've peeled back the armor, opened yourself to attack, and the sad reality is, no matter how good you are (or hope you are), you'll never please everyone.

There's nothing more gratifying than discovering a reader enjoyed - or even loved - something you wrote. But nothing punches holes in your self-esteem like finding, after months or years of exhausting work, that you failed a particular reader. Never mind that a hundred other readers liked it. One person viewed a piece of your soul and found it lacking.

A few month's ago, I dreamed I donated a copy of one of my books to a local library. The librarian accepted it, said she'd put it on a shelf, and, as I was leaving, dropped it into the nearest trash can. I turned to retrieve it, but before I reached the waste basket, she decided she might be able to give it away to some of the library's teen patrons. She offered it with a stack of other reject books. The young readers eagerly searched through the stack and took every book but mine.

I'd hate to hear what Sigmund Freud would say about this dream. I don't want to know, so please don't tell me. It speaks, however, to every author's hopes and fears. Will someone like my book? Anyone?

So why do we it? Why put our ideas, feelings, and mental images on the line? There might be a masochist gene hidden inside every author. There's definitely something that makes writing as important to us as eating, drinking, and breathing. (Definitely more important than sleeping. I give up lots of sleep to write.)

Maybe we do it for the readers we do manage to please. Thank you readers. Thank you for loving books and giving authors' souls a chance.