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Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Gettin' Nekkid

Ha!  I got your attention, didn't I?  No, I'm not playing with key words to drive Google searchers to my site.  That's a little further down on my to-do list.  Believe it or not, I'm going to talk about something writing related. 


(Hey, I heard that!  Yeah, it's been awhile since I talked about writing but was that reaction really warranted?)

Ahem.  As I was saying....

Do you know those dreams where you're sitting in your high school science class only to discover you're in your underwear (or worse--completely naked)?  Actually, I don't have those kind of dreams, my stress comes from forgotten locker combinations or being late to class. 

Still,  I think most of us will agree being under-dressed amongst our high school peers would be a major stressor.  It was bad enough changing in front of girls in the locker room for gym...throw in a dozen boys and a teacher and -- ACK!  Anxiety attacks have raged over far less.

(Get ready, I'm going to talk about writing now.  A turbulent transition)

I'm one that keeps my work close until I feel it's ready for human consumption.  Once I've done everything I can think to do to it and once I LIKE it, then I will share it.  I've won critiques in contests that I've passed on because I just wasn't ready to share my stuff yet.  In my mind, I didn't want to waste anyone's time by sending them something I knew how to fix.  My thought was I should buff and polish it to the best of my ability and then look for feedback because I hit a roadblock.

But that's about to change.  I'm about to get nekkid...metaphorically speaking that is.  I won a five page critique from Steena's logline contest from the amazing Michelle McLean and that little voice in my head is telling me it's time. 

I'm telling all of you so I can't chicken out.  (brock brock)

(for those of you struggling to keep up with my rambles...I will now tie nakedness to writing)

Sharing my work is very much like stripping.  I feel completely bare allowing others to read my words.  It used to be fear of failure that kept me from sharing.  Now, it's the intimacy of the transaction.  Allowing someone to read my writing (especially before I've done enough to even form an opinion of it myself) is like inviting someone to move in with me.  They're going to see that my kitchen counters are stained, that there are usually a couple pairs of abandoned socks littering the living room floor, and so much more. 

But then it occurred to me, after doing a couple critiques for others what a wonderful opportunity it is to have someone else tell you "hey, this isn't working" or "why don't you try this?"  I would rather hear my main character is coming off like a TOAD before I spend months crafting him.  If there are problems, I want to know early on, so I can fix them before they are so deeply ingrained I have to start over.

So, yup, I'm gettin' nekkid and sending off those first five pages today. 

Tell me...when do you get nekkid with your MS?  After the first chapter?  After the first draft?


Nicole MacDonald said...

You can do it!!! Get nekked - after the first few times you'll wonder what the fuss was about *hee*
Enjoy the feedback and don't let yourself be 'devastated' by it (else I will come round and smack you!) every single piece of feedback makes our work better (for example your feedback to me resulted in 100+ new pages of AWESOMENESS)

and when in doubt.. don't think just do it (that's how I did the bdypainting the first time - serious nekkedness ;p)

aspiring_x said...

good for you vicki!
really, truly crit helps. so . much.
i have trouble putting my stuff out there for others to read as well, but i try to make myself do it. i find that being choosy about who you share with relieves some of the fear. i have one crit partner i share almost everything with, sometimes early on, sometimes after a lot of work on it, sometimes at both times.

Janet Johnson said...

Good for you! It took me a full ms of crappy writing to get there, but the next ms, I started from chapter 1, and it's been great!

Good luck!

Matthew Rush said...

Michelle rules and she will most certainly hook you up. That's awesome to hear that you feel ready!

Karen Walker said...

It gets easier the more you put your stuff out there. When I went back to school in my fifties and took all the creative writing coarses, I think that did it for me. 20 or so youngsters critiquing my stuff made my skin much tougher. Eventually I learned to not take things personally and evaluate whether I agreed or disagreed with the comments.

Little Ms J said...

I know EXACTLY how you feel. I wrote a memoir and it was painful to put it in someone else's hands. The first time I finally let go and got naked was for the Backspace Conference in May of 2009. Now, I appreciate other's opinions and have learned how to stand there showing my dirty bits proudly. Good luck!

notesfromnadir said...

I really enjoyed the build up to this. But, like you, I was overly concerned w/ forgetting my locker combination!

It's tough getting naked, but well worth it. I showed a manuscript to a former teacher years ago & he made a lot of helpful points & was so nice about suggesting changes. I find that people who care about reading & writing will find the time to help your work shine.

Clarissa Draper said...

The first time I did it, I felt like you. Now I can't send anything off until I've had those critiques. You'll learn to love them especially when they're harsher ones because you'll see your writing improve in leaps and bounds.


ed pilolla said...

you know when it's the right time. for me, allowing people to see it full of warts was so valuable. i took time to digest it all, a long time actually, came back and made some changes and it's now something i'm so proud of:)

Shannon said...

Too funny that we both posted on this today (and used the term "public consumption"). Must be because I stripped for you over the weekend. :p