I’ve been thinking about this recently. A fellow writer friend has been agonizing over sending out a query letter and subsequently her manuscript. I, on the other hand, sent query letters out to agents WAY before I really should have. To an extent, I’m not afraid to put it out there. It has led to me wanting to better my writing and to meeting some fantastic people in the process who’ve helped me learn more about the craft. I used to be the first one to try something. I once asked a band if I could sing a song during a set. It took a week of convincing, but I finally got up there with them. And I’ve participated in quite a few karaoke contests. Made it to the finals in one and placed in the top three the other times. Apparently I lack fear to a certain degree. Where I’m afraid to put it out there sometimes, is my opinion.
I’ll tell you what made me gun-shy, so to speak. We constantly hear people telling their friends they would rather hear from a friend than a stranger if their spouse, significant other, etc. ever cheated on them. They say they would rather know than their friend keep the information from them. Well, I found out just how false that declaration is. I had a friend that was dating a boy from the same town. He’d started making excuses why he couldn’t meet her when she asked him to. A family member of mine was friends with the girl this boy was seeing on the side – and had gotten her pregnant. I waited until I was able to confirm the information before telling my friend. Upon telling said friend about her boyfriend’s infidelity, I was accused of lying, jealously and of being a general bitch while trying to break up a happy relationship. This person has never apologized, even after she found out I told the absolute truth with absolutely no personal gain. Nor are we still friends.
It’s because of that experience, and my hurt afterward, that my previous post about the holiday season almost didn’t get written. I agonized over it for days before I hit publish. And it’s the only post I’ve ever scheduled because in the back of my mind, I was giving myself time to “back out” and un-schedule the post and possibly delete it. I let it go out into the world. After letting it go, I started thinking about opinions in general. If I plan on putting myself out in the world, which I’m doing with my writing, then I’ve got to learn that there will be people who disagree with me and will stop reading my work because of it. And I have to be alright with this. If I constantly write with the fear of what people will think about it, I will never write anything worth reading.
So I’m learning to be more comfortable with putting myself out there again. One good thing; the older I get, the thicker my skin gets. But things still get to me. I just need to learn how to now let it get to me if the comments are not constructive.
How do you deal with putting yourself out there for the world to praise/criticize?