My Own Reader

Posted on April 4th 2015 ⋄ By Sara Cleveland ⋄ Category: Self-Publishing Woes, Writing

Do you ever have doubts? Have you ever work so hard for something, only to stop moments before its finished and wonder why it was you wanted it so bad in the first place?

I think I’m having a moment of cold feet. There’s something absolutely bone-chillingly terrifying about putting a book up for sale. Part of me wanted to find a bucket to up-chuck after clicking the last button to post Saving the Dragon on Amazon.

Leaving aside from the fact that I’m a very anxious person to begin with, writing can be deeply personal and putting your work out there feel like inviting judgement. It feels that way because, well, that’s exactly what it is. I’m putting my writing, a piece of myself, out there for the world to judge. If it’s deemed worthy people will buy it. If it’s not it’ll languish at the bottom of the search results.

I’ve posted small amounts of my work on FictionPress over the years. I’ve gotten some positive comments and some negative comments. My old blog, which was political in nature, definitely incurred some nasty remarks. None of that really bothered me. Not like this. Somehow the pain of judgement is much sharper when your real name, your everyday identity, to the work. A bad review on FictionPress doesn’t hurt so much because you’re shielded behind a wall of anonymity.

So, in the face of my anxiety, I find that I must remind myself why I write in the first place. I write to tell stories. Stories to entertain. Stories to delight. Stories to teach and think and make the reader laugh. I write because I am a story-teller. But I am also my reader. Until now I’ve been my only reader, aside from a few isolated cases. So its natural, I think, to worry what others will think. What my mother will think. What my high school English teachers will think. What my friends and coworkers will think. Will the story entertain them? Delight them? Make them think, laugh, or cry? I don’t know.

Worrying about this is making me lose sight of a very important truth; I’m not really writing for anyone but myself. I am my own reader. I just happen to now be sharing my personal library with the world.

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