When I first started writing, I never showed my work to anyone. I was so convinced it wasn’t worthy of anyone else’s time or effort. That, and I was afraid of what they might have to say. Their criticisms might justify everything I already knew – I sucked.
But I still wanted people to read the stuff I wrote. Interesting dichotomy. Then I discovered the internet, (Yes I’m that old — there was no internet when I first started this gig,) And with that came writing forums and critique groups. I found I was open to the criticisms people gave me because they also (gasp) gave me compliments as well. I was officially addicted, here was a place where people not only read my stuff, they even offered me help to improve it!
I tried to take everyone’s advice to heart and soon found that didn’t help. I also found that somewhere along the way, my story no longer was mine. It belonged to all those well-meaning critters. I lost my voice, the reason I wanted to write in the first place.
Over the years, I learned a valuable lesson – Beta readers and critters are invaluable to the writer, I could not have grown as writer without them, but the advice they offer must be tempered with that little voice in the back of your head. I’ve learned to trust that voice and I also learned that is not an easy thing to do.
When do you know you are ready for that step? When do you stop relying on other people to make your work better and trust yourself?
I still have betas read my work, but not as many as I used to. I found my voice, and while it might not be everyone’s flavor, it is mine and that is what matters. I now know I cannot please everyone, nor do I want to. My style is mine and while I have more room for improvement (LOTS of room for improvement,) I no Longer feel the need to offer everything I put on paper up for inspection. But it took years- decades – for me to get to this point.
So I ask, when do you know you have reached that point? When do you take that jump and learn to trust that little voice whispering to you in the back of your head?
~ Ann Simko