There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you. ~Maya Angelou, American poet and civil rights activist
When you tell someone you’re a writer, invariably you’re asked what you’re working on right now.
A vague response doesn’t cut it. They want details — lots of them — and many are quick to offer “helpful” suggestions for plot points, characters, settings, whatever.
Now some writers welcome this kind of feedback. They enjoy sharing daily/weekly word counts, they post portions of their work online, and they tease readers with snippets designed to build eagerness for when the book is published.
Some make a game of it, gathering momentum from the camaraderie.
Kind of like working on a group project in school.
While there’s nothing inherently wrong with such a mindset, I’m not in that camp. In fact, I’m quick to clam up when it comes to offering details of my work-in-progress.
- I don’t want new opinions on my plot to interfere with the ideas already swimming around in my head.
- I don’t need to hear discouraging reviews when my story isn’t even completed.
- First drafts are notoriously awful, and I don’t want something like that connected to me forever.
- I don’t relish a cheering squad “encouraging” me on in my word count.
- I don’t trust strangers to have my best interests (or those of my career) at heart.
- I don’t need any more pressure to “finish already.”
- Talking about a project lessens my enthusiasm for it (and you’ve got to really love your work-in-progress to spend so much time with it!)
Maya Angelou was so right — it is agonizing to have an untold story inside you. And sometimes, getting all those ideas down, just the way you want them, is more like pulling teeth than stringing words and sentences together.
But that’s part of writing. And that pressure is what drives me forward until I can type The End.
So don’t fault me for refusing to share details about what I’m working on.
It’s not you; it’s me.
And just like with a hen’s egg, the book will hatch when it’s good and ready!
How about you? Any thoughts you’d like to share?