My writing friend Eileen wrote this on her blog last week-
Have you ever felt like the moment you get comfortable in your own skin you’re asked to dance naked in it?
I love that metaphor. She was talking about something else, but it’s true for writing too.
Writing is self-exposure, whether we want it to be or not. We put so much of ourselves into our stories, then we put them out into the world. No wonder rejections and bad reviews are so hard, it feels like it’s not just the words we wrote that are being rejected, but us as people being judged and found lacking.
Holly Lisle’s newsletter this week was about just this- how whether we mean to or not, we can’t help but put ourselves into our writing. She says-
There are two ways to keep from revealing yourself while writing fiction. The first is to only write things you
don’t care about.
The second is to not write fiction at all.
Good fiction is personal. If you’re writing—and if what you’re writing matters to you—you are going to be in your fiction,
and the people who read what you’ve written will read your mind.
They will see YOU.
So if we are going to be naked anyway, may as well dance!
What kind of naked dancer are you?
A Dita Von Teese burlesque?
A pagan stomp around a fire in the woods at full moon?
A seductive hip shimmier?
Right now, I’m standing in the darkest corner of the room, hunched over with one arm wrapped around my breasts, the other covering my pubes. The music might be playing, but I’m not listening yet.
Time after time, my critique partners tell me they feel like I’m holding back in my writing. And I am. I’m writing what I want people to like, what I think will be acceptable. That might not be the same as what I really want to write.
But there’s so much in me I don’t want to let anyone else see. I’m old enough to have plenty of saggy unacceptable bits, literally and metaphorically. If I let myself go in my writing, I’m afraid it would be so wild and crazy no-one but me would even understand it, let alone want to read it.
So what do I do?
Keep playing it safe?
Or do I need to close my eyes, take a deep breath, let the music get inside me and move my hips just a little. Then slowly, so slowly, peel my arms away from their protective grip on my body, open them wide, and dance?