Random Thoughts: Rites of Passage for Writers Part the Second

So in part the first I talked about losing work to whims of fate (okay, technology.) This time I’m thinking about a few other uncomfortable firsts.

We’ve all been at that place where we are perhaps overly enthusiastic about a piece of fiction. I’m talking about early on, before we really know anything, like how to figure out whether or not what we’ve done has any real merit. I kind of miss those days of relative ignorance, when your excitement about a project overreaches your skill and whenever you talk to someone you’re like a child discovering their own creativity for the first time, shoving coffee stained papers into people’s faces with the proud declaration of “Look! I made this!”

And then your friend, because they are your friend and as such are equally excited, begins to read the nascent piece of work out loud, in front of other friends and you realize for the first time how deeply “not ready” the piece is. It is so not ready, in fact, that you want to bury it and yourself inside of some undiscovered cave until most of the people on the earth have forgotten your name. Ah! The shame! The beautiful golden glowing story you thought would change your life forever is filled with overwrought prose and inconsistencies and resembles the scribblings of your pre-k self. You have unleashed this piece of dreck, in however limited a way, on the public because you’ve yet to figure out how to express the story that resides, perfectly, brilliantly, inside of your skull. You THOUGHT you managed to convey it well on the page, but alas… the opposite is true.

You are made aware of your painful status as a novice.

Part of your brain says, “But I have talent! I know I do!”

That’s probably true. But without putting in the work and learning stuff about craft, it’s all still scribbles on a page.

This is one of those testing moments. Do you love crafting stories enough to continue? Do you take that moment of terrible realization and turn it into  an opportunity to learn? Do you dig in and work harder or do you give up?

I know what the answer was for me. I kept going. But what about you guys? Have you had a moment like this? How did you respond?

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2 thoughts on “Random Thoughts: Rites of Passage for Writers Part the Second

  1. The embarrassment of realizing how unfinished a piece of my writing is can be painful. When it happened to me in front of other people, that was almost unbearable. There is no teacher like pain. Now I’m a whole lot more careful about making sure all the elements of a good story are present. Just yesterday I was working on a new short story. I heard my best friend’s voice in my head asking, “Where’s the character arc? I don’t see a character arc!”

    Liked by 1 person

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