About a week ago, I finished a story that I had been working on for close to a year. Though it is one of my longer fiction pieces, it’s still only about 7000 words. To some of you who have written novels, that might not seem like much, but for someone who enjoys writing flash fiction and short stories it’s quite a feat.
Whenever I finish a story, I feel a rather nauseating flood of emotions: relief in having brought a story full-circle, confidence that it is brilliant, fear that it is not, a sense of empty-nest syndrome in having it finally be over, excitement to set it free, and an urge to dispose of it immediately. All of this doused in a ridiculous amount of reticence.
While I may have no qualms about publishing non-fiction content to the masses, both using my blog and at work, it’s a whole different story when it comes to fiction. Writing creatively, to me, is to allow another to gaze into your mind and explore the most private and personal corners of your thoughts. And I don’t mean secrets or the like. I mean writing shows how you think, what you believe, and how you process information and emotions on a personal level.
To share those aspects of yourself with other people can take a great deal of strength, and even more guts. The act of creation, whatever art form it is, is one of the only things that we do inside of ourselves. To write a story is to take the thread of an idea from your head and to weave it into a tapestry of words completely independent of the influence or support of anyone else. It is to make something from nothing but your own self.
And, if I am being honest, the internet has contributed to the fear and anxiety that many writers feel when placing their work in the public eye. With the ability to comment on, critique, and abuse writers while maintaining anonymity, honesty and quality feedback can be lost in a sea of useless, negative garbage.
And it isn’t only the aspiring writers who experience these poisonous comments, the vampire queen Anne Rice herself is leading a battle against these online trolls, specifically in relation to Amazon reviews.
But the feeling of finishing, whether positive or terrifying, should never keep you from giving your art to the world. Polish it, smooth it, spend as much time as you need making it the best it can be, then set it free. Your craft, your words, are not meant to die quietly on a page in some corner in your spare room.
Give them the wings they need to fly and then push them off the branch. Sometimes it will be a rocky start, sometimes it won’t go quite as you planned, but no author ever became successful by publishing the first word they ever wrote. Take the good criticism and use it. Leave the trash behind.
How do you feel when you finish a story? Do you prefer to publish one kind of content over another? What has been your biggest audience?
I’ll be on Facebook until next time.