show and tell…

When is it time to show your stuff?

My husband has big-time background in writing.  He has multiple degrees in English and creative writing, he learned from and rubbed elbows with quite a few big names in Canlit while earning those qualifications,  and he has several plays and finished pieces to his credit.  He has his own doubts/insecurities/typical neurotic writer tics about what he’s done, but that’s really another story.  He knows his literature, he knows what’s crap and what works, and he knows how to critique and solve writing problems.  

You would think, given his experience and the sleeping together situation, that I would ask him to take a look at some of my writing so far.

No can do.  I think about it and do a full-body cringe.  He found and read some pages of a scene I’d left lying around a couple of months ago, and although he had positive things to say, I was MORTIFIED!  It was the most awkward ten minutes of my marriage, and I am an extremely awkward, foot in mouth, jackass kind of person, so that is saying quite a bit.  

On the other hand, I don’t have a writing or critique group, but I would like to bounce some ideas off somebody.  I want to see if my story would ever be interesting to anyone else, I want to see if any of the effects I have tried to achieve actually work.   I have a couple of people in mind to ask to take a look, but I’m unsure of how to take this next step…who what when where why, haha. 

Have you shown anyone your work in progress?  What was it like?  How did you find that elusive (to me) reader-person or critique group, and how did you pop the question?

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4 responses to “show and tell…

  1. I feel like you’re reading my writing-mind! I was just thinking about this problem this week. I have a few other friends who are writers (some more serious than others). I haven’t been able to show my work to almost anyone. Because of my creative writing minor in college, I’m totally used to the workshop atmosphere and I welcome feedback and constructive criticism of my writing. The problem is that without that university atmosphere, I’ve had trouble finding people to read it, and as a result, I’ve grown shy about sharing (I guess that’s the writing muscle? Use it or lose it?) . I wish I could find a good writing group, but I’m a bit hesitant. I have told almost no one details about my novel except for a few of my closest friends. I have one friend who reads my stuff. I’ve found that my blog has been a good way to ease people into my writing style.

    Based on what you’ve shared here about your husband’s writing credits (and how awesome for him!) I’d be totally intimidated too. But if that’s something you think will stop feeling awkward (perhaps if you’re giving him the writing to share instead of him just finding it?) he’d be a really awesome person to give you advice! Does he read your blog? Maybe start there and see how you feel with him reading that and work your way up to a few pages? If it’s totally awkward, you could always put an ad on Craigslist or something to look for local people who are interested in forming a writing group, perhaps. (Sorry for the long reply – it’s just that I was thinking about these same things). -Renee

  2. No worries. I’m so excited the things in my brain aren’t only in my brain, haha.

    I find it harder to meet new people and get involved in new activities with every post-university year that goes by. I think you’ve got it right about the writer-muscle! There’s a writers’ festival with master classes in town next month, I’m going to see what classes they’re offering and maybe find some workshoppy goodness there.

    I don’t know if I’m more intimidated by my husband’s credentials, or by the fact that I would have to look him in the eye every day after finding out this thing I’ve poured my heart, soul, and bits of my life into sucks…
    And it’s quite possible it does.
    Or it will- it still isn’t’ finished! I emailed a few pages to another friend of mine (who also shows no writing to her husband, haha) but she hasn’t given me any feedback so far… and I’ve changed every single part I sent her anyway. Maybe it just isn’t ready yet, and once it is I’ll start feeling less mortified about showing my stuff…

  3. I get nervous when my husband reads my stuff–and he doesn’t have all of those literary credentials (which are intimidating in their own right). He didn’t even know I had written a book until I sent off for the proof copy. It was like “I’m, um, ordering a 300+ page proof copy of my book today.”

    He does make a pretty good critic, though, because he’s not afraid to tell me the truth (yes, the man has told me–in fairly gentle terms–when certain clothes make me look fat), so I felt pretty relieved when he said that he really enjoyed my book. This is on top of the fact that he doesn’t like vampires–except when people are killing them (my book is pretty pro-vampire); he liked it despite that. Probably has something to do with the fact that they’re gun-toting bad asses. LOL My husband likes action.

  4. Hey Keri, thanks for the comment!
    I like that his first intro to your writing project was a giant stack of pages. Awesome. Congrats on finishing your draft!
    I think my show and tell issues are more like… oh, say, I’m generally uneasy about singing in front of people, but I would find singing in a karaoke bar full of strangers easier than singing a song in a room with just one real-life friend in it. Actually, I don’t know if that analogy makes any sense at all.
    I have a lot of weird tics, to make a long story short.
    I think I need a few degrees of separation to feel a bit more at ease about it.
    At least… for the sexytime parts! haha. How juvenile.
    Since I wrote this post, I worked through a few plot problems and become more excited about certain parts of the story. Recently I’ve started having conversations with ‘um, you know, in my book? I thought of a thing…”. I’ve given the husband a few scenes to check out as well- and the floor has not yet opened up and swallowed me whole. hooray.
    My real problem may be the sexy time parts. Because it’s evidence in writing that I have been putting a lot of thought into the sexytimes of made up people, maybe? Don’t even get me started on ‘would I ever let my mom read this?’ I am tuning that thought OUT OUT OUT or I’ll never finish this thing!

    I may get the balls to ask the hibs to check out my first draft once it’s done.
    But I’m actually hoping to hit up a few of his writer friends first. Degrees of separation!

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