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Being brave means to know something is scary, difficult, and dangerous, and doing it anyway, because the possibility of winning the fight is worth the chance of losing it. –Emilie Autumn
Every author knows there are millions of reasons not to share our writing with the world. It’s not polished enough. Some people won’t like it. No one’s reading this kind of thing right now. I’m not sure I’m ready to share it. I might want to change it.
The list goes on and on.
When I first started writing, the very thought of letting other people actually read my words was chilling. In a way, it’s like opening your soul and letting others in. I think it’s the same for most creative pursuits, but since I’m a writer that’s the one I can best speak to. We really do pour our hearts out on the page. With romance in general and steamy scenes in particular, there’s always this moment where I have to disassociate the words on the page from the author doing the writing. I’m sure everyone wonders, especially at first, how much (or little) others will think of them when they read the intimacy between characters. How much does the author draw from their own lives? Where does the line between fiction and reality get drawn?
Just like everything else, we make up the reality of those steamy scenes. Just like everything else, there’s undoubtedly a basis in reality. Or at least a basis in imagination. That’s the key, that last bit: we imagine what it is like for our characters. We’re not transcribing our own lives on the pages any more than JK Rowling transcribed her own school experiences into Harry Potter or Robert Ludlum underwent secret government manipulation to write about Jason Bourne. We’re authors. We make things up.
But making things up still provides a window into our souls, even though it might be shuttered rather than wide open. And that means that one of the hardest things for most writers to do, especially in the early stages of their writing, is to share their work.
Writing is an isolationist sport. We do it alone. We even have the term “writing cave,” as if we need to prove that it’s a solitary pursuit. We spend so much time living in our minds, pouring thoughts out onto the paper or screen. The thought of inviting someone else in to share what we’ve created can be so scary.
As Emilie Autumn says, it’s scary but we do it anyway. We have to: if we want to succeed in the world of publishing, people will be reading our words. The sooner we get used to the idea that others, sometimes countless others, will read our words is a good thing. Does that make it any less frightening?
No. But we have to suck it up and share, because a novel sitting on a hard drive where no one can see it is one less novel out there in the world. It might be the best thing ever written, but if no one reads it, no one will ever know.
Lucille Ball said I’m not funny. What I am is brave. She also said ability is of little account without opportunity.
All I can say is take the opportunities as they come by. If I hadn’t taken the opportunity to enter Pitch Wars back in 2016, I wouldn’t be where I am today. If I hadn’t taken a leap of faith and entered the Golden Heart® contest this year, I wouldn’t be a finalist. Does it get easier? Of course. We writers have to have thick skins. Suits of armor sometime. Still, I hope I never get to the point where I read something I wrote, sit back and rub my hands together, and say yeah, that’s great. I want to always hold onto a modicum of humility, because I’d be nowhere without the people who were kind enough to read for me once I finally got brave enough to start putting my words out there. They’re the ones who encourage me. They’re the ones who give me the confidence to reach for the stars. And they’re the same ones who are there to pick me up and dust me off every time I fall.