Sharing Work Is So Scary

Sharing work is so scary.

I wonder if it applies to all art?

Apart from writing, the only other creative field I've really committed time to is music. I play a few instruments, and part of that is the occasional public performance; a school concert, jamming with friends, playing in church. Even if I'm good, and I've rehearsed, and know what's going to happen, I get nervous. I want it to be a certain way, to have a certain feel, and the pressure is on.

Still, if I'm following music, it's right, or it's wrong - and I always have that to fall back on. It sounds good, and people recognise that.

Writing's different, somehow. It's too - what's the word? - subjective? I can write something good, something great, and certain people will still think it's only OK, or downright bad. There's no shield. If you don't like Bach, that's up to you, but I got all the notes right, so it's him, not me, you have a beef with.

All the notes in a story I wrote are ones I made up, and the tune's a me-original. If people don't like it - well, ouch.

So, it's scary, sharing work. Isn't it?

Putting things out - online, in books, even handing them to friends - can be an odd mixture of extreme arrogance (Here! I made a world which I now demand you relate to!) and bizarre raw-openness (Please be nice. This is my heart).

A thick skin or complete detachment - how else do you cope?

But still...

Sharing work can be brilliant. Having people read and relate to and love a story you told - it's why we write, in a way. Yes, we write for ourselves, but the desire to have others connect with the story and say 'Yes, I see what you did there. Gosh, how clever' never goes away.

So, sharing work. It's awkward, sometimes, and sometimes it goes badly, and sometimes it goes really, really well.

I still keep getting better, I hope, at letting things go, and letting others in.

Just keep swimming. Just keep sharing.



  1. Context matters, I think.

    In college, I liked sharing work in classes (after the first couple) because I felt my work was more serious and of a higher quality than many of my schoolmates.

    Amongst friends, there are some people I share with, who are typically complimentary, and don't necessarily read with a discerning/editorial eye.

    The scary one is sharing on a place like Absolute Write, where there are SO MANY people with so much experience, who know so much. But letting other people see, and comment, is one of the best ways to learn and grow.

    1. Absolutely - it's the best way to improve. Only ever hearing praise just means you're around polite liars, but hearing honest criticism - even if it stings, sometimes - leads to better stories.

      Absolute Write has a lot of wisdom - love that place.

  2. I've done a lot of music performance, and I think there's a huge difference between being a creator and a performer--a lot of roles and mediums combine both (a performing musician is a creator insofar as they interpret the black dots) but writing fiction definitely has a full dose of creating and a very large if-delayed-in-its-gratification scoop of performing. I think I find the creating aspect more rewarding but the performing aspect more fun. But definitely, showing someone something I have created is scarier than performing something that is largely the creation of someone else. There's just no way to get around the fact that it is a piece of YOU, you know?

    1. (I often wish I knew someone who composed music so I could ask them if these things hold true.)

    2. I'm sure for composers, the first public showing is a very different feeling than for the musicians. Perhaps a good analogy is writers and their agents / publishers?