I kind of feel like I’m coming out of the closet or something. I’ve been writing for several years now, and can count on one hand the number of people I’ve told. And I probably don’t need all the fingers. I don’t know why. I think it’s partly because it kind of feels like a birthday wish – if I tell people I’m writing a novel and trying to get it published, it won’t happen. But I’m realizing that novels are like children – it takes a village to raise them.
I just went to my first Creative Writing group on Friday. A friend of a friend was hosting and she graciously invited me to come. It was wonderful and terrifying at the same time. I felt ridiculously out of place – the only suburbanite, the only SAHM, the only one who brought food that was decidedly suburbanite SAHM fare (there was blueberry vanilla goat cheese, for pete’s sake…and then my mini cupcakes), the only one who wasn’t into yoga, and the only one who writes novels…young adult fantasy novels, at that. I listened as the rest of the group started to read their beautiful short stories and inspiring poetry, and felt very silly by the time all the eyes turned to me. I’d brought my current project in its incredibly imperfect state, and it was long – at least 50 pages – and I hadn’t picked something to read.
It would have been terribly easy to declare mself unprepared and then just sit back and listen to everyone else, thank my hostess for a lovely night, and leave still feeling comfortable, if maybe slightly disappointed in myself. But I reminded myself that I’m turning over a new, braver leaf. So I decided to just start at the beginning and read the prologue of my story. I started off by very poorly explaining how I’d come up with the idea for my story and what my heroine was experiencing. The politely blank/slightly confused smiles were not encouraging. I gave up on explaining, took a deep breath, and started reading.
The response was wonderful – there was no gushing about my wonderful writing or declarations about its inevitable success. Instead, there was assurance that the intense effect I was hoping for was definitely present, and that my heroine’s voice was very real. All things a writer wants to hear.
It made me regret not coming out of the writing closet years ago. I’m sure not all the responses I get from my writing will be as encouraging as that, but I’m realizing that this is one birthday wish that’s not going to come true if I keep it to myself.