Sharing your work is a big step. As children we happily share everything because we know everything we create is brilliant. Over the years, doubt creeps in. Sharing what you’ve written becomes more difficult, it’s too personal: rejection of your work equals rejection of you. Horror!
To deal with the fear that everyone hates you, many of us start disliking a piece the very moment they’ve shared it. I’m quietly proud of my stories until I hand them over to someone else to read. In the millisecond of transfer, from one hand to another, I start disliking the piece. I distance my self from it. It’s OK if everyone hates it because I do too.
Sharing is scary. It’d be nice if we could just sit here, at our keyboards or with our pens, and write. Make art, increasingly beautiful, until it flowers into a work of such stunning glory we have to share it. (At that point we hope the world will gasp in amazement and give us money.) Then we can go home and start working on our next work of art.
Unfortunately, that’s not good enough in today’s publishing market. It’s a drag but publishers aren’t looking for the next great novel. They are looking for the next profitable novelist. So, as well as writing good stories, we need to prove that we are committed to continuing writing good stories. One isn’t enough. We need to prove that we already have an audience and that we’re willing to put in the work to grow that audience. We need a following, a presence, a publishing history, a platform.
Blogging, networking, reading and submitting to magazines may seem like a distraction from writing. But platform building is part of the work of a contemporary writer and putting it off will make it more difficult to succeed.
I want to succeed so I sit here, at my keyboard, writing about the journey.