I had a short story published this past fall season I failed to mention in my blog—but I did add a link to it on my website. At first, I wasn’t aware the literary magazine had published it yet. They informed me several months later that they posted it. I was thrilled to have my first short story published within a literary magazine. The magazine operates out of U.S. collegiate chapters from schools such as Yale University and University of North Carolina. I would have blogged about it, but I worried a little about what others would think if they read my story.
People often say that they’ve reached a point in their lives where they just don’t care about what others think of them. That may be true for some but not all. Most people do care about what sort of impression they leave on others. I’ve read about some famous writers who were a little embarrassed at first after having their work published.
When you share your writing with others, you’re exposing a part of your soul to them. It leaves you vulnerable and open to criticism.
I prefer to write dark or disturbing material. When I read, I typically gravitate towards stories about controversy, tragedy, and loss. I have read and written some stories that involve loathsome characters carrying out vile misdeeds. I write what I would want to read and I know there’s an audience for these kinds of stories. There are people out there who seek and devour these wildly imaginative and creative works, which are thrilling reads from start to finish. Some people pass judgment finding these writings depraved, especially if these fall within the genre of horror.
The worry about what readers might think comes from the concern that people will believe the work is a reflection of the author’s character. This is untrue. It is actually a peek into the writer’s imagination. Anyone who could ever believe that an author could condone any such behavior—just because she wrote about it—is utterly obtuse. One’s artwork expresses the depth of one’s inventiveness and originality. It’s an expression of how one might view the world, or it’s a story that someone might have had to write as an act of catharsis because it’s too compelling not to share.
At the start of his career, Stephen King was a little embarrassed about his writing because of its subject, but he got over it quickly because it was what he wanted to write and nothing else mattered. I also read about how Shirley Jackson’s short story “The Lottery” caused much controversy when it was widely read in The New Yorker.
When a writer taps into her queendom of imagination and bares her soul to the world by sharing her creation with others, she is doing the craft justice. Her writing is honest. To hold back or dilute her work out of fear of criticism or judgment would reduce the effectiveness and value of the piece, not to mention lead to bland, weak, and often forgettable material.
What a complete waste of the writer and reader’s time.
No matter what you do, as long as someone can consume your artwork—figuratively speaking, of course—there will always be a person out there who will have a problem with what you create.
Writing should be about artistic expression, putting a piece of yourself down on paper because it’s a world that exists inside your creative vision. You’ve scoped out the artistic landscape within your mind, you’ve carved out a story to tell that’s just been rolling around repeatedly in your head shaping and reshaping itself until it’s just right, and you’ve unearthed a treasure you should share with the world because it’s the best of its kind to your credit.