Wednesday, 4 August 2010

Talking Out The Writing

It never really occurred to me how important the talking aspect of writing was.  Until I started talking about it. 

For the longest time my writing has been my dirty little secret - something I live to indulge in, something I can't get out of my head...yet something I rarely talked about.  Mainly it was because I felt like nobody was interested or wouldn't get where I, or the writing, was coming from.  

To say I have low self esteem would be an understatement, and I think I'm better at hiding it than I am at working on it.  Every time I thought about talking to someone about what I've written, or tried to bring it up in conversation all I can think about is my high school English teacher.  The teacher who stamped all over my dreams of ever becoming a published author and pretty much laughed at any writing assignments I handed in.  He was a jerk.  Plain and simple.  And while (after re-reading some attempts I made at literary greatness in my teen years, I would have to agree with him: they stunk) in a way it is a teachers job to be realistic with a student and will only set said student up for disappointment if he plies them with fake confidence and untrue compliments - but isn't the flip side just as damaging?  If someone hears for long enough they aren't worthwhile or why bother trying as it won't work out anyway, it's only a matter of time before they really believe it.

That's what happened to me.  

Every time I thought about talking about my writing I'd see that stupid bald teacher and clam up - convinced I'd be laughed at.

But something amazing happened.

I kept writing anyway.  

I didn't write to prove him wrong, or for any reason for that matter.  I write because I have to.  A day doesn't feel like anything unless I've done something writing related, whether its a bit of editing, some proof reading, or on those really great days - new words.  Those days are what makes it all worthwhile.

It's only recently I've began taking my writing seriously.  I've finished three full novels, two more in draft form and a dozen more ideas swimming in my brain.  And I'm on the hunt for an agent.  

But all that isn't the point of this post.  This is: the talking part of writing.  

As someone who never, ever, ever talks about their work, I was struck completely by surprise when someone wanted to talk to me about it.  A fellow book addict who wanted to read my work.  

Her name is Hayley and we met via Twitter.  Our friendship grew and after a little while I felt confident enough to let her read some of my work.  I could have fainted when I found out she liked it.

I always worry I sound egotistical when we chat about my writing, but in a way its such a massive relief to finally be able to talk about it, but that wasn't the best part.  The best part was when I started talking about the characters and the conversations about them batted back and forth between us, new ideas started forming.  She inspired me in the best possible way and came up with a few killer ideas of her own.  Suddenly plot points I haven't been sure of have new meaning and purpose - kinks have worked themselves out and even a sequel has solidified itself.  

None of that would have happened had we not talked.  She has made me more confident as a writer, and made me realise I can be bolder and throw different scenarios into the mix without worrying about the reactions - strong reactions are good things - they show people are connected.  Best of all its made me realise my characters are human and they have human flaws.  No single person is perfect, despite how they are perceived.  She has made my writing more believable.  

So my parting words to all my fellow writers shall be this: bite the bullet!  Don't be afraid to get yapping about the thing you're passionate about!  Seriously, only good shall come of it.

And to the listeners of writers: you guys are amazing and as important to the writer as they keyboard which the story is typed.  And as someone who was minus a keyboard for a little while thanks to an inquisitive two year old, this is saying a lot.  Without either, the words wouldn't be there.

And for my own personal listener: you are so going in the dedication page.

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