Submitting work to a literary magazine to be reviewed, and possibly rejected, by editors is scary. And although I'm fairly new to the game, I'm not sure that will ever change.
But it's not knowing that strangers are reading my writing that makes my heart race and palms sweaty; instead, it's showing my writing to friends and family.
Maybe this seems counter-intuitive. After all, who would want me to succeed more than friends and family? Writing is extremely personal, so wouldn't someone who knows me personally be better suited to reading it than a stranger?
But that's the crux of the issue. My writing is personal, but not in the same way as ideas or feelings I'd discuss with my family. Writing gets to the grit of the matter, and usually not in a conventional, straight-forward way. Great stories have many interpretations, which readers can appreciate and adapt to their own lives, but friends can take differently.
Most of my published stories deal directly with death, for example a suicide attempt, cancer, and a car crash. When a stranger reads these, maybe they wonder what prompted me to write them, but more likely they appreciate the story for the way it resonates with them.
Friends and family wonder instead why these thoughts rattle inside my head.
"Is this what you think about?"
In one way, yes. I was thinking about death when I wrote these stories. But in another way, no. I go about my day just like everyone else. I laugh and smile, and I assure you my mind isn't constantly consumed with gruesome thoughts.
Instead, these stories are an outlet for other things that bounce around in my head. Feelings of frustration may spur a story about escape through suicide. A loss of control in an area of my life goes on paper as a young girl developing cancer and learning to accept her fate.
As writers, and humans, we cope with our struggles in unique ways. So, yes, that is what I think about, and though it's difficult to reveal, I'm damn proud of it.
Firstly, if anyone has clicked on this link recently in hopes of an actual blog, I sincerely apologize. As it turns out, consistent blogging is not my forte.
To bash myself further, I'd like to talk about another weakness of mine: personal writing.
Spouting this as a weakness may seem ironic in a post that is essentially personal, but I assure you that I've always struggled with writing about myself. Though my fiction characters may share my struggles, personality, and even hair color, something in me freezes up when I type the word "I" and it actually refers to myself.
In the past few years, I've had life experiences that most would classify as strange and unusual--going to a inpatient mental hospital, make close friends and connections with fellow patients, and battling Lyme disease. All of this is great fodder for a story, but my fingers stall on the keys when I attempt to begin my mini memoir.
Why? In my usual poor personal writing form, I can't exactly tell you. Maybe it's because I don't see these stories as completed, but then many authors write memoirs in the prime of their lives. Maybe it's that I'm reluctant to see my journey as interesting enough for a story, yet I submit my imaginational journeys for publication with relative ease.
In short, I'm not sure why I find personal writing so difficult, but I'm hoping that, like for my fiction writing, there's a short learning curve.