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.