Last night was the biweekly meeting of my writer’s group, the Wyrdsmiths. Things have been a little light lately with the hand outs, what with some members either being between contracts, or in the middle of a hiatus, or just general attacks of life. It’s summer, it gets that way.
For the first time in a long time, I had handed something out for the meeting. It felt both good and strange to be on the receiving end of their critiques, and I have to admit that I had a little flutter in my gut as the group turned away from the general pre-business chatter and got down to going over my piece. You have to understand that I started with this group long before any of us were published, and long before I’d finished my first book. The people know me, know my writing, know my strengths, know my weaknesses. We’ve grown (and in some cases, grown up together) as writers. If anyone was going to be able to help me tear apart the material I’d handed out and figure out if it could be knocked into some form of marketable prose, it was these people.
That can be both reassuring and terrifying, especially if you’ve gotten out of the habit of being the one in the crosshairs.
All of which makes me appreciate something that has been going around in some writing circles on the web lately, and especially my friend and fellow Wyrdsmith Sean Murphy’s take on the matter. The subject? Stumbling as a beginning artist.
Notice I don’t say falling down. We all do that early on, and we expect it. No, it’s not the falling that’s hard–it’s the stumbling that comes later, after you’ve learned how to walk but are still figuring out how to run. The hurdles we face that arise from our growing self-awareness of our art, and the gap we find between what we produce and what we desire to produce.
Sean does an excellent job of talking about it from someone who is in the trenches, facing that hurdle right now, and I urge you to go read his piece Mind the Gap.
The only thing I would add is that that feeling of being dissatisfied with your work never fully goes away–the perspective and focus merely shift. But more on that another time.