I have not submitted much of my writing for potential publication. I’ve only ever really once put anything out there. In the past a part of me was scared of the rejection and I’d convinced myself that people reading my work was a mysterious process, that some force would get my work into other people’s hands.
Thankfully my logic stepped in and realized that the only way my work will reach other people is if I put it out there to be reached.
I received an email from a woman I took a workshop with a few years ago on Martha’s Vineyard. Her workshop was a catalyst for me really throwing myself more fully into writing. It was one of the most inspiring weeks I’ve ever had as a writer and I still credit the time I spent at her tiny quaint cottage as the push I needed to call myself a writer and pursue a life doing this. She’s been approached by a small press to put together a collection of woman’s works using the prompts from her workshop and I knew immediately that I wanted to submit.
The deadline was today, 11/14. I submitted it last night.
I really struggled with writing this piece. I had built up what it would mean to be apart of this collection and it completely stunted me. Being able to be included would be such an honor mainly because of the impact she had on me pursuing writing. And I couldn’t write as a result of it.
So Saturday I went to a writing studio in the city and just put fingers to keyboard. I struggled at first, then began to remember what she had taught in her workshop: kick out the negative critique; just write and let it be. So I let the words flow and was actually very pleased with what I had in front of me. Suddenly it didn’t matter to me if they picked it up to be a part of the collection. I liked what I had written, I was proud of it, and I wanted to share it.
When I was pursing acting, I got to the point where I was going on tons of auditions. I was sending my headshot out regularly and honestly if I didn’t get called in for something, it was okay, because I had other things lined up. While writing is a little different, there is something to be said for this process of getting cast in a show. After doing so many auditions and submitting so often, I found, as most actors eventually do, that me not getting called for an audition or a roll had very little to do with talent. Mostly it had to do with whether I was what these people were looking for, whether I fit in with who else they wanted to cast, if I had worked with them or someone they knew. My talent got me a second look, but the actual act of getting a role or even an audition had very little to do with my talent.
Granted I also learned that you should practice you’re craft and always bring your A-game. But I also learned that my A-game changed. What was once the best of my best would later be an embarrassment. But I also learned from putting my best out there, even if that best would one day be pretty low caliber. I only got better because I could see where my best was flawed.
As a writer I’ve forgotten this a little. A part of me doesn’t want to put anything out there that could be judged. But another part of me, the part I’m starting to see and embrace more, knows that I’m tougher than I give myself credit for. And while a year ago I was a little too tender to send things out, now I can distinguish my opinion from others opinions of me. I’m stronger than I was before and I’m ready to put my best out there, even if it will one day be an embarrassment. It’s what I’ve got right now and that’s good enough in this moment. I’m never going to learn and grow if I don’t try.