Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Bashful Exhibitionist

I wrote a book. I sent it to an agent who read it and offered to represent it. She sent it to a variety of editors who have read it.

No problems, there.

My husband has asked to read this book. My brother has asked to read it. A good friend has asked to read it.

*Kermit-flail of terror*

The thing is, I'm terribly bashful about letting anyone I know read my work. Publishing professionals? Sure. Fellow writers willing to critique? You bet. But loved ones? Eek!

I even squawk and flail at El Husbando when he wanders by the computer while I'm writing. I have this horror of him reading something over my shoulder and laughing (which could totally happen, despite him being a supportive sweetheart. He only reads non-fiction, and jokingly demeans my reading tastes as "dragon books" or even "snakes-with-wings books".)

I know this is weird. On one leg o' the chicken, I want to see my book on store shelves; I want everyone to read it. On the other, I'm leery of letting anyone I care about see it until publishing professionals have deemed it Worthy™. I think I crave the mental safety net of being able to keep it all secret if it turns out I'm not talented enough to be a published writer.

A friend once asked me why I wanted to publish my writing, and I gave an answer that must have sounded mercenary. I said I wanted to get paid. It sounds distasteful, but I think that answer actually represents progress for me.

Why? Because there are three common reasons why a person decides to seek publication:

1) They're unimpressed with the level of adulation they receive from the world and have recognized writing as a way to exhibit their awesomeness, thus facilitating the populace's worship of them.

2) They believe their accomplishments don't count unless other people deem them worthy, i.e. they are not talented until someone else says so.

3) They would like to make a living at writing.

That last option is the only healthy one on the list; the other two stem from self-esteem issues.

I started out in category 2; I think I've (mostly) moved into category 3 now. Being neurotic about anyone I know reading my work is just a vestige of the bad ol' days.

Note those reasons for wanting to be published have nothing to do with wanting to write--you should write because it purges your poisons and animates your fantasies, because it lets you stretch and enjoy your natural talents. You can even write chiefly to please others, but the best reason to write is because you love it.

The best reason to seek publication, however, is because you want to be paid. It isn't a good thing for your ego to be involved.


If you're a writer (or creator of content of any sort other than pure exhibitionism blogging), what category do you fall into, 1, 2, or 3? Why are you trying to be published?

And why do you create at all? Why are you a writer?

I'd love to hear your motivations.

Pageloads since 01/01/2009: