It's an interesting thing, to be embarrassed by your own work. I think in part it was to do with the lack of any clear-cut parameters. If someone's an artist, you can look at their work, and see if it's good - it doesn't matter if it's selling or if it's not their day job. My brother-in-law is a graphic designer-cum-photographer, and though he might not tell people he's a photographer if asked 'What do you do?', his stuff is blindingly good - check it out both on his site, http://brandonrechten.com/, and on his Facebook page here. Go on, take a look. Good art'll make you happy.
But writing can be different. I would never feel OK telling someone I was an author without being published - it seems like such a hollow title, one that I'd just decided to award myself. I'd probably give myself a hat, too.
So I started blogging to break down my own limitations and cautions.
|One of Brandon's, and one of my favourites. Looks about right for my editing process...|
I have a lot of respect for writers who get their work out there and show it off, welcoming criticism, wanting to improve. In fact, my other brother-in-law (they do both exist, I promise. I'm not making them up as useful blog tools. Though that could be fun. Bloggers-in-law?) has a blog / website called Ambiguous Tales where he's writing a weekly story and setting it free on the Internet, to be read and commented upon. That takes balls, and I remain impressed.
Letting other people read my work always seemed a bit cringe-worthy if they actually had any sort of relationship to me. M'wife couldn't read EREN until I had interest from a literary agency, and m'parents still haven't read it (Hi Mum! Hi Dad! Sorry!). C'est strange, non?
This Saturday, I was lucky enough to go with Brandon to the Montclair Art Museum's Affordable Art Fair, where he was showing / selling prints of some of his photographs. It was fun, and we did quite well, I think - certainly even those who didn't buy were highly complimentary of his stuff.
And that got me thinking. Why don't we have these things for writers? Writing's a type of art. It's a type of creativity, at least. Judging by - ahem - some of the others artists' work, you don't have to be traditional (or talented? Ooooh) to find a niche and to present your art.
Imagine a Writer's Short Story Fair. Twenty or so booths of writers, with their best short stories printed out, or painted, or presented however they wanted. People can go around, talking to them, looking at the stories, reading them - and if they like them, they buy them. Simple.
It's basically like art shows already, expect what's for sales focuses more on the words, and less on the way they look. Wouldn't that be fun? I'd go, for one. Who's with me? Writers of the world, unite, and then sell stuff.
It might already exist. If it does, let me know. It feels like a great new way of sharing stories and selling them around. Stories as posters. Stories as paintings. Stories as woodblock? Stories just printed off and read and loved and bought. Writers could work in community - and they're famously solitary creatures. Who'd choose a profession that means mostly staying in alone all day, writing and typing away? Well...
So, yes. Presenting work is awkward, sometimes, but it's always a Good Thing, and normally leads to happy-making fun-times. What more to say?
P.S. I did actually share one of my own stories here on the blog back in March. For those who would like, the post and the link to download it are here.