The Writer and their Story

I just got home from Mike Baltar’s house. Today is his birthday, and today is also the day we were to meet with the rest of our critique group. I am the only one that had a submission this month, and it was The Writer, The Knight, and The Lady. I’ve recently talked about writers and their relationships with other writers, but tonight’s meeting got me thinking about writer’s and their relationship with their stories. So let’s talk about that.

My relationship with my writing is this: it feels like an extension of myself.

My stories should be products of my intellect and skill. That would be a healthier way of looking at it. I go into the word mine and toil, committing effort and sweat, until something is extracted, polished, and presented for other people to consume. It’s a product, to be given away or sold.

It feels more like I’m scooping out a part of myself, dressing it up as best I can, and then putting it in front of other people to be judged. When someone finds fault with one of my stories, they are finding fault with me.

They’re not actually judging me, and I’m not quite that immature when it comes to receiving critiques, but I always have a little bit of fear. I have worked on this. I don’t get defensive anymore.

This sounds like my critique didn’t go well tonight. It did! The critique itself was very positive. It’s a decent story that is difficult to execute well. If I want it to be great, I’m going to have to put more work into it. Right now, it’s just kinda good.

Before the critique started, I thought about the story and didn’t think it would land very well. A couple of characters don’t get enough screen time to be very well fleshed out. There were problems in the story that I was aware of, and I thought that would mean it wouldn’t read well.

But, it worked. My group confirmed some of the things I suspected wrong with it, and now I can choose to do more with it, or leave it in the pile with the rest of the short stories I’m not doing anything with.

I care about every story I’ve written. They are both a part of me and my product. I want them to find good homes and do well in the world. They were written to be read by others, so that’s what I hope for all of them.

I suppose that’s all I have to say on the subject. I thought it would be more complicated than that. There are healthy relationships between the writer and their work, and there are unhealthy relationships. I recognize some of the places where my feelings about my stories have been unhealthy in the past, and I’ve worked to put some distance between me and the things I write. But I think there will always be a link between my sense of self-worth and the way my stories are received.