We write. We publish. We wait for comments. Sounds familiar? It should.
Ah, but if there’s one thing I have learnt in the last few years of blogging, it’s that there are some cardinal rules to follow before your keyboard-happy finger taps that ‘Publish’ button. So, here are (at least) 5 things you must check before you let the world read your post.
Yesterday, I opened my mail to see my first ever love letter- from an editor. A letter that told me in the nicest possible way that what I had written was not suitable for them. And when I say nicest, I really mean it. I doubt most editors would take the pains to say why someone’s work did not fit the bill, beyond a ‘Sorry, but this sucks!’
For that, I am grateful.
You see, the last time I was told that my writing sucked big-time was when I was in high school, twenty years ago. Yes, that was eons ago. Do you remember the time you turned in an essay to your favourite teacher, waited patiently by for the praise to flow and were stung by the way she dismissed your hours of labour? ‘Too many fancy words’; ‘Writing as though you turned on a Thesaurus in your brain’; ‘Stop using such long sentences!’ were just a few of the choice ones that were flung at me that day.
Adolescence is bad enough to go through without having the teacher making it worse. So, I went through the gamut of an emotional upheaval- Anger, bitterness, grudging acceptance, slow realisation, determination to change and finally writing more precisely.
It took me many years to look back at that episode as an important one in my academic and personal life. Had I not been told that, I would still be churning out rambling essays with no coherence of thought. This brings me back to the present and about how the Universe conspires to send you a message in the right manner.
How do you think I reacted when I saw that rejection letter? Was I upset or angry? I could have been, but instead I viewed it with dispassionate calm. This last week, I have been reading a book. A wonderful, motivating, raw and anecdotal book called ‘Chicken Soup for the Soul- Inspiration for Writers’. The book, by itself, deserves a separate review post, but there were a couple of quotes that stood out for me. I had taken a notepad and jotted them both down on Wednesday.
Many writers have trouble separating comments about their work from comments about them.
– Suzan Moyer
It would seem that writing is a solitary thing. One beating heart, full of words, full of passion, hunkered over a keyboard alone. But, writers need one another. For encouragement; for sharpening. For help and hope. After all, we’re on the same sweet ladder.
And, I’d be missing a crazy amount of blessing if I were climbing all alone.
Here’s where it gets interesting. I wrote these down on Wednesday and I received the rejection on Thursday. There is no such thing as coincidence. There is a time for everything. So, I was faced with a choice:
A) Feel helpless and annoyed that my writing was not good enough and throw in the towel, vowing never to type another word again.
B) Look at the letter as a positive boost to my work. It wasn’t bad, but it could be better, if I chose to work on it.
Today, I choose (B). Only because the letter came to me at a time that I was willing to receive it.
In the last year, writing groups all over the Web have caught my eye. But, I have been terrified to join any of them. The truth? I dreaded the way that they would systematically rip apart my carefully scripted piece, pointing out a dangling modifier here or an overly ornate description there.
Today, after reading the book and the letter, my resolve is firm. I will take the plunge and enrol in a writer’s support group.
Will my ‘book’ ever see publishing daylight? I don’t know and at this point, I won’t worry about it.
The other more important question is, ‘Am I ready to grow as a writer? Will I be willing to move beyond the ‘Nice post’, ‘Well written’, ‘Good job’ comments that are left on my posts and get to the core of what makes a really good piece? To that, I answer, YES! It’s time I take that plunge; out of my comfort zone and into uncharted waters.
It’s what my dad always says: ‘If you are receptive to change, change will seek you out.’