Did you tell anyone?

Discussion in 'Writing' started by Auras_Battle, Dec 23, 2009.

  1. Auras_Battle

    Auras_Battle Rookie

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    When you started writing, did you tell anyone? Call me paranoid, but I am a bit concerned with people I know reading my work (especially this early in my journey). I also think having a ton of people know I'm writing creates a bunch of unwanted pressure. Meh, what do you think?
     
  2. PeterWilliam

    PeterWilliam Omnibus Prime

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    Definitely kept it low key. My closest friends knew, but I wasn't out discussing it anywhere. Even now, 20 years later, the only other person who knows me, that knows about my writing, is my wife. I've always been a rather compartmentalized person though.
     
  3. RedMage

    RedMage There is no tomorrow

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    I didn't tell anyone for the longest time. Started writing in college, I would go and hang out with my friends and work on my laptop while sitting on their couch. When people asked me what I was doing I said "emailing friends from high school". And when someone did come up behind me I would always slam it closed. Finally telling people, I kind of set myself up in these situations where I "accidentally" left stuff around or "forgot they were there" and just started talking to myself about my stories.

    My family and some of my friends know now but, even so, I can't write in the same room as them and I hate it when I walk out of the room and they sneak a quick peek--they always end up reading it aloud to everyone else that's there and I can hear them in the other room. Annoying... Has to be finished before that can be happening. So you could say I'm still low key about it.
     
  4. Colony

    Colony The Marauder of the Abyss

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    I told most of my friends, and a few others. I like having something to talk about when I haven't seen someone in a while, plus I love writing! Though sometimes I wonder why I told certain people... can't be helped.
     
  5. SuperFede

    SuperFede Writer wannabe...

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    I have told very few people. really few, and fewer even have ever read my stories.

    There is this one special friend that knows from the begining and she gave me a reason to write when I began. She has read most of my stuff.

    My wife, I took me sooooo long to even tell her that i write. And to date she hasn't read anything i have ever writen. Somehow i don't want this to be hers or her to be a part of it. A long story that I should probably discuss with a shrink, i know.... but that is the way things are.

    To me writing is like an outlet and something somehow personal. I don't feel the need to share. In this forum, strangely I can share and i do post every month for the flash fiction contest. It's hard to explain. it's like a safe house.
     
  6. N. E. White

    N. E. White It could be worse. ~tmso Staff Member

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    Well...since it's confession time...and I'm still stuck at home until I can go on my trip...

    I have told three dear souls: my husband (who I force to read my stuff every now and then, but he hates it), a dear friend (who I force to read my stuff every now and then, she says it's 'ok'), and another dear friend who is a librarian (who hasn't read any of my stuff, yet).

    SF you hit it on the nail. This place is like a safe house for me too. I can't imagine showing any of my stuff to anyone else I know, though I do post it on my blog. As no one visits my blog, it's safe there too. :D

    Here are a couple of questions back at ya Auras:

    Why are you concerned that folks read your early stuff? My reason: I'm incredibly embarrassed. Embarrassed of my writing skills as well as my ideas.

    Why is pressure bad? I work well under pressure. As a matter of fact, I thrive under pressure. I need an external deadline to meet otherwise I would just write random tidbits here and there, and never string together a presentable story.

    I don't think you're paranoid...I think, you're a writer. :)
     
  7. NickeeCoco

    NickeeCoco Reader

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    I'm taking a break from peeling potatoes. I hate peeling potatoes. Do you realize how many potatoes it takes to make mashed potatoes for eight people? A lot. My hand hurts.

    I don't tell random people. My friends and family, I have. I like that added pressure. I like having people ask to read what I have written thus far.

    a) it gives me a sense of a due date.
    b) it's great for on the go editing
    c) I do well under pressure.
     
  8. Auras_Battle

    Auras_Battle Rookie

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    My concern is a combination of embarrassment and having others try to influence my work. I told my best friend that I was starting to write (the only person I told), which prompted him to immediately ask about my story ideas. I was hesitant to give him more information, but I caved and told him of a short story I was planning to write. Given this particular friends personality, he told me he didn't think my story idea was good and of course tried to make suggestions on how to make it better :mad:.

    When it comes to writing, I do not do well under pressure. I can't sit down and churn out pages without a plan. In order for me to write anything that has a chance of being decent, I need to plan plan plan. I need to know what I'm writing before I put pen to paper. Under pressure, this important phase gets the back seat and I end up with a story that doesn't make sense...
     
  9. SuperFede

    SuperFede Writer wannabe...

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    OH, here is where you went wrong.

    First don't tell ideas you are planning to write about unless you want people to help you with it and 99,99% of the times change it.

    Second, do show him what you have already written. see what he thinks of that.

    Third, always listen but just that. They are all opinions. Don't let one person let you down because he/she likes something different than you do. Most of the times it is called contructive critisism. If no one tells us what we are doing wrong then we can never get any better. Of course, if you are showing some fantasy story to someone who only reads police thrillers then you will not get a good opinion. Do understand where the opinion is comming from.

    In this forum you can ask for opinions and we give it free and in a constructive way.


    oh. Be carefull with too much planning! sometimes it is best to just let it out. Puke your story into paper (or your computer). Once the whole story is out there there are plenty of editing passes to make it really good. That is why it is called first draft. No frist draft is ever any good.

    In my case i do very little planning and just let my characters show me the way they are going. The only thing I have is a very slim idea of what i want. Sometimes i know very specifically what i want to write in a chapter and some other times i just wander with my characters. Feel free to experiment and see what works best for you.
     
  10. E_Moon

    E_Moon Registered User

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    Yeah...I was excited about what I was writing, and wanted to share it. Most of my life I've shown friends what I was writing (most of my life it was lousy, too, but that wasn't their fault. As someone said once--and I can't recall if it was someone famous--"The good thing about being a late bloomer is that you aren't a morning glory.")

    This may be because I started writing very young (and badly. Keep that in mind) and thus had much less shyness than I might've developed later. Because I started so young, before other kids my age were writing stories, I got positive responses even though (looking back) that stuff was not good. It was a story by another kid--so my friends liked it. Once some of them started writing, we'd show each other our work and then get into arguments.

    Now, however, I tend not to show people stuff until the book's half done. I still need encouragement; I still need alpha readers, but I know there will be an audience eventually and I'm more focused on making it better for them (the ultimate readers) than getting back-pats right away. (Though I do ask my husband to listen to a few pages sometimes. Like today.)
     
  11. Holbrook

    Holbrook Edited for submission

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    Yes I did, but most family and friends thought it was a "nice" hobby for a middle-aged woman to indulge in. Only when I started posting stories online did I come across folks that, not only liked my writing, but took me seriously.

    Folks actually liking the work you produce without even knowing you personally is a hell of a kick. Though the kick can sometimes come in the teeth!
     
  12. Stephen Palmer

    Stephen Palmer Urbis Morpheos

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    One of the great tricks is to find friends who can tell you the truth. Most friends will tell you what they think you want to hear about your work, even after you've told them to be completely honest. In all my years of writing so far I've only had two friends I trusted to tell me the truth about my work. It's not many...
     
  13. Aether Monkey

    Aether Monkey hack-wit

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    Some personal rules that have come in handy for me:

    1) Never show work until I feel it's ready for commentary.
    2) Never discuss a story's details/plot with anyone before hand.
    3) Have other writers or artists read work first.

    The first rule, garnered from LaPlante's Method and Madness, is sensible to me because it keeps me from being crushed by my own insecurity. Sometimes, in the desperate trenches of fiction writing, I find myself cowering in the mud and dirt for fear that my work will not prove to be "up to par"; in those moments it is compulsively tempting to stick my head out of the hole I'm in and yell, "Heya, I'm over here--is anyone got a smoke", or some other such nonsense. Essentially, when my insecurities arise there is a temptation to get someone else to read something of mine and reassure me. So strong is the desire that I will show them work that is not done, not ready, and not good. Whatever the response to such a piece is, I have shot myself in the foot.

    The second rule, which might be from Orson Scott Card's work on writing science fiction (I can't quite recall), is about artistic power. When an idea strikes or is conceived, it has certain glow about it. Like a strange, glittering object found amongst a trunk of old things, it hypnotizes. It's as if it wanted to be found and it wants to be out in the world. Hold on to it. Keep it secret. Let that strangeness, that wonderment, fuel your writing. It is tempting again to run out and yell to all "look what I found", but as soon as that happens, everyone wants to add their angle on the thing, and before long what is extraordinary seems cheap and common.

    The last rule I have learned from personal experience. Working artists (which is a stupid term, I admit) understand the process of layering, the integration of elements, the oddity of verisimilitude, etc. Their critique is the one I want first--they can make specific suggestions and pinpoint problems. Feedback given by people who don't create is necessary as well, but mostly as a benchmark--not a diagnostic. Comments like "I like this" or "spice it up" are basically useless to the writer in terms of revision; they don't help me write better.

    Anyway, these have worked for me. I agree with others here, this forum has been a real help (as well as some face-to-face writing groups). Invest in the craft and you will do great!
     
    Last edited: Dec 26, 2009
  14. Window Bar

    Window Bar We Read for Light

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    Now that I've sold my business and have begun writing full time, I will go so far as to say, "Oh, I have a writing project going," but only when asked what I'm doing with my day. That way people don't put too much pressure on me to chair the Save the Highway Skunk Foundation.

    But I won't tell details. First, I believe the story should be told on paper. Second, I don't want to create a life for the story that it doesn't have; I want to be able to tinker with it at will.
     
  15. tyriseus

    tyriseus Registered User

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    When I was younger I made the mistake of telling my father I liked writing and dreamed of doing it proffessionally. I remember his devestating response to this day word for word.

    It silenced my pen for twenty years but last year I worked up the courage to prove him wrong and decided to try again. I told anybody that was willing to listen once I got going. I wanted to tell people as I had decided I wasn't going to quit and if everyone knows there is a little more accountability. I think this is a question of attitude. If your nervous that talking will hurt your writing then don't but if it encourages you to work harder - then flap them gums.

    Everybody at work knows I write now and I love it when they ask me how it's going. I've already been told by many people they want to buy it when it's done - I figured that since I do plan on publishing why not begin the word of mouth marketing while it's still in production?
     
  16. E_Moon

    E_Moon Registered User

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    I think parents--if not supportive--can be the most dampening of influences. I told my mother I wanted to be a writer, back in high school, and her response was to point out how unlikely it was I would ever succeed, and how much work I'd have to do for very little money...she had me look up the pay rates for the SF/F magazines and calculate how many words I'd have to sell per month to make a living.

    I basically gave up the idea of writing as a way of making a living for decades--it would be just a hobby, maybe--but as it turned out, it's the only way I've ever made significant income, though not until I was well into my 40s.

    A parental "no" or any negative comments (you aren't good enough, you can't stick to things, nobody makes a living at it, etc.) really knocks a lot of people back. FWIW, though by the time my mother died I had six books published and a contract for more, my mother still asked a friend if the friend thought I'd ever make it. I'm glad I didn't know that before my mother died.
     
  17. N. E. White

    N. E. White It could be worse. ~tmso Staff Member

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    Egads E_Moon - that's got to be the worst.

    I too wanted to write when I was young, but got shot down by my 6th grade English teacher (her exact words: You're going to be a scientist, (hefty laugh) not a writer!). It is utterly amazing that I remember that (since I can't remember where I just set down my glasses), and that it has taken me close to 30 years to get over it and start writing again.

    Auras, if it helps to tell someone, then tell 'em. If not, we know you're a writer, and I, for one, want to read whatever you got. Share something when you think it's ready. :)
     
  18. Inkstain

    Inkstain Registered User

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    I'll chime in with the rest as reluctant to tell others that I write. However, my situation was a bit of a turn around from that of E_Moon's and tmso's. My mother raved about my writing when I was a kid (but I assumed all mothers did) and my high school English teacher was convinced I was destined to be the next J.D. Salinger after winning an award that put both my own and her name in a state-wide high school writing competition. I have always felt that I let both down as I subsequently put down the pen and did nothing further in the way of writing. I would now and then get the urge and begin a project, the last one I nearly even finished. In the end, it has been my own bad habits that have led me to shy away from telling others of my writing interests -especially my mother, as I know how excited she would become.

    That said, I am determined to see it through this time. I have my outline, have done my research and have even reached out and made contact with some expert sources. There is only the writing to do and thats the fun part, right? Even so, I'll hold off on telling mom. At least until I get to chapter six.
     
    Last edited: Jan 7, 2010