Thursday, 14 January 2016

Sharing Your Writing With Others: A guest post by Ray

So, what's on the shelves today? Why, a special guest post from a lovely friend of mine and fellow writer, Ray. Inspiring, hilarious and talented, it's quite the honour to have her here! Read on to see what Ray has to say on the subject of...

Sharing your writing with others.

By Ray @ Ray Reads Books

Something I’ve come to realise over the last couple of years is that I both desperately crave and fear-like-a-biblical-plague having other people read my writing. Obviously this is something that would be inevitable *IF* (note the enormous “if” right there) I ever managed to get a book published. The whole point is that strangers would read the words you’d slaved over for weeks, months, YEARS, and dive into that world that has only been real in your own head for so long. But that doesn’t make it any less petrifying.

It’s incredibly easy to share your writing with people beyond your nearest and dearest friends (gods forfend that I show my mother anything I write!) what with the amount of readers & writer-folk you can find on Twitter, Wattpad, Writing Forums and other internet platforms. All it takes is a hefty slug of courage *coughvodkacough* and some tech-savvy and you’re away! Your stories can be let out into the wild for people to read and comment on just like that.

Posting a story online can have one of four outcomes; People read it, love it and write lovely comments; People read it but no one gives you any feedback; People read it, hate it and are vehement in telling you all the reasons why; or No one reads it at all.

The first is the dream obvs, who doesn’t love the happy-gooey feeling of having someone you’ve not bribed tell you how much they enjoyed reading your writing and that they want to read more? That is fucking music to my ears. The second outcome is strangely nerve-wracking because while you’re glad that *someone* has read it you’re left wondering what they thought and on Wattpad it’s not like you can hunt down each reader and shake feedback out of them.

The third outcome is one that even NYT Best-selling authors have to deal with and on the internet those type of people get seriously *mean*

 Getting your writing trashed on is heart-breaking but if someone actually gives constructive criticism on why your story didn’t work for them then it might actually help you in the long-term. For me the idea that no one will read your writing is possibly the most soul-destroying to contemplate. Nothing would discourage me more from writing if I felt like I was merely posting into a void where no one had any interest in the story I wanted to tell.

While I have posted some of my writing up onto Wattpad, I recently took it down once I realised that it was in NO way something I wanted other people to see and judge me by as a writer. It was literally the first drafts of chapters from a novel that I am still trying to finish since I wrote it so utterly out of order (I have many posts on my blog about *that*). I was horrified when I looked back at the chapters and saw how HORRENDOUS they were. Like I couldn’t believe that I had just left them lying around the internet for anyone to read and laugh at! Thank buggery no one actually left a comment pointing out how awful they were.

For some people the instant gratification of Wattpad and other sites like it is all they want for their writing. For others, myself included, the end goal is publication with a traditional publisher or maybe self-publishing. This makes sharing your writing a little more fraught with self-doubt and the nagging thought of should you show it to anyone? Some writers might not share any of their writing before they start querying agents whereas some might have a trusted reader or two who sees *everything* from the shitty first scribbles right up to the twelvety-millionth edit.

I am the latter kind of writer. I physically *need* another pair of eyes to read over my scenes and share their thoughts good or bad. I would go insane, having convinced myself that every word I wrote was pure shit and that no one would ever consider publishing me if I didn’t have my Threadsister/Twinnie/Bestie Extraordinaire Jess to send my work to. She has read every single word that I have written for my current novel-in-progress even though I wrote the end before I wrote the beginning. She knows and loves these characters almost as much as I do and we spend a ridiculous amount of time talking about them as if they were real people, not figments of my imagination. I have been writing this book for her as much as for myself.

However I’m getting to the stage where I am almost comfortable with people other than Jess reading my writing – almost - I am still bricking it when I send a snippet of my work to someone new. Learning to trust another person with your precious babies is hard as fuck but building those kind of relationships with fellow writers can be so rewarding. I mean, most of my favourite authors are super close friends with other authors (Queens Sooz and Sarah being prime examples), they read and critique each other’s work and can help work out problems in a way that a friend or family member who don’t read/write couldn’t. True, having your other half tell you they love your story is an excellent morale booster but it sometimes may be more helpful to have another writer whom you trust and respect saying it and then breaking down all the reasons why.

Supporting the aspiring writers you meet via social media (the Twitter writing community is quite literally the best thing ever), offering to read their writing and give feedback, simply cheering them on when they tweet about how many words they got written today are all fantastic ways to build relationships with people who might be just as eager to do the same for you and your work. Hell one day you and the writer friends you make might all be debut authors together! And if you don’t lie awake at night mentally drafting your acknowledgements section and mentioning all the lovely people who read your book before it got near publication, I think you’re a dirty liar. Either that or I’m a nutter. Jury’s still out.

Massive thank you to Nicola for hosting me and my rambling thoughts on writing. She is one of the aforementioned lovely people who have read some of my book *squishes*. I have also been so lucky as to have been able to read a snippet from one of her WIPs and dude lemme tell you – it was some good shit and one day I’m pretty damn sure y’all will get to read it too. Unless she tries to convince herself otherwise – NO NICOLA, DO NOT THROW AWAY THAT STORY! 
Anyway for frequent updates on the nervous mess that is my brain trying to adult you can find me on Twitter @RayReadsaLot and less frequently this past year but HOPEFULLY more often in the next I have a bookish blog called Ray Reads Books (funnily enough). I hope you are not too weirded out by this post to come see what goes on there.
Ray :D

Thank-you very much for that, Ray! Such a truly interesting piece. And I agree wholeheartedly with everything you said! Indeed, having someone read your work can be both exhilarating and... well, TERRIFYING! I've yet to meet a person who isn't frightened by the prospect of allowing someone else to see part of their soul. Because that is, truthfully, what a book is; a part of that author's soul. They have poured their entire being into creating it. 

Ray's story is magical, I must leave you all with that. Captivating even in the early draft stages. I greatly look forward to seeing my good friend and fellow Brit one day dominate the NYT Bestseller List herself. And maybe I'll be up there with her!

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