Taking a leap of faith

I know that at least eighty percent of the people who follow my blog are writers. I also know that at least seventy percent of that eighty percent are very, very protective over what they write. I don’t blame you, either. Our writing is like cutting open our own flesh and bone and baring our soul to someone we aren’t sure will understand. And so, let me tell you a little story.

reading - moonacre

Once upon a time, there was a girl who loved to write. She wrote and wrote, things she thought were brilliant and things she felt like burning. Once she felt brave enough, she sent snippets to a few select friends. The friends liked the snippets, so she began sending more and more, until there were full chapters. Something miraculous happened – people really liked the chapters. It kept her  going. The friends were encouraging and she loved hearing their responses. Years passed, and she had written three books and was working on half a dozen more. She showed her writing to anyone who wanted to see it…except her own parents.

Why was this? Well, when I think really hard about it (because I’m pretty sure you’ve figured out this girl was/is me), I think it’s because parents are tough love. The friends I send my writing to are honest, and give me feedback, but they’re not family. They don’t know you like family does.

I knew this was something I needed to fix. I thought, “Mirriam, you’re nineteen years old and you still hide your writing from your mother. This is ridiculous.” Because in reality? I was scared. Remember the aforementioned soul-bearing? It’s a frightening thing. I took a deep breath, printed out the first few pages of Not to Be, and handed it over to my mom.

You want to know several reasons why you should let your parents read your writing?

1. They’re probably interested in it. If they don’t act interested, it’s most likely because you act as if you don’t want them to be interested.

2. They will give you honest critique.

3. They will also give you the opinion of someone older and wiser than you are.

4. They love you more than even your best friends ever will.

5. If writing is your life, as it is mine, then you need to share it with your parents, even if it’s a snippet at a time. If you don’t, you’re leaving them out of something that’s incredibly important to you. It’s a connection you should have.

Now, you’re a different person than your parents. You’ll disagree on some points. They might not get what you’re trying to say at another point. They might despise a character you love. They are, after all, readers as well as parents. For instance, Mom likes Not to Be, but with reservations. She finds it a bit dark and she’s not overly fond of a certain flirtatious vampire (who happens to be almost everyone else’s favorite). Mom doesn’t read much fantasy, particularly semi-urban/steampunk fantasy with vampires – but she likes Not to Be. She’ll tell me if she thinks I overstep something I shouldn’t, and even if it’s painful, I have to cowgirl up and seriously consider what she says. I’m pretty much an adult, but nineteen years isn’t enough time to gain the wisdom she has.

Letting her read Not to Be was an enormous leap of faith for me. If she hated it, I would have been shattered. Would it have stopped me from writing it? Probably not, but a writer’s ego is a fragile thing. Harsh critique can shatter your confidence, and encouragement can put your head too far in the clouds. So, it’s hard knowing you’re going to get the toughest opinions you’ll ever get in your literary life – but it’s worth it.

Your characters are your children, but you are your parent’s child. Don’t forget which is the most important.

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11 thoughts on “Taking a leap of faith

  1. You’re the same as me: you were actually the first person I EVER let read ANY of my writing, once I started writing seriously. And then I let a few of my other friends read it, but my parents still hadn’t read any of it. Not that my dad would even be interested…anyway, The Monster Files is the first thing since the very first story I started writing that I have actually let my mom read. And you’re right. Parents’ feedback is incredibly helpful! Especially since TMF takes place in a city and my mom was born in New York. And I’ve never been in a large city. 😄

  2. Very well put! Great post! My parents have been my biggest supporters and at times I’ve wondered if their critique is a bit biased, but I know that all their encouragement and critique is to help me better my writing. And I have!

  3. Fantastic post!

    Not so hard for me though because having started writing at 8 years old, family was about all there was to read it! 😄 So I guess I can say I’m used to it. But it was a little hard to let my Mom read The Owl of Kedran’s Wood because it was so different from anything I’d written. But all you said was so true!! And now that I’m editing it (finally! Woohoo! *hugs Tare, even if he kills me for it*), my Mom’s notes are enormously helpful. 🙂

    Anyway, I second everything you said. ^_^

  4. Yea verily, says I. I know parents frequently get a bum rap among writers, especially young writers; and I know, too, that parents really aren’t always supportive. But I think we need more posts like this, encouraging writers to take the leap and offer to share with their parents, and fewer of the whiny self-pity-party posts about how Nobody Understands Them & So Forth. (“Nobody gets me…!”) When that is the case, chances are there are faults on more than one side.

  5. This is something I have yet to master, but I know the time is coming. Not being quite as far down the Writer’s Road as you are, Mirriam, I am closer to the beginning and probably a bit more uncertain than other more advanced authors/writers. (Though I know to a certain extent, nobody outgrows that. But I think it’s safe to say beginners are even MORE hyper-sensitive to that because we really don’t know what we’re doing yet… I’m not so sure any even ‘professional’ or ‘advanced’ author even knows what they’re doing, but that’s a while ‘nother thing altogether.)

    Starting a blog really helped because for a while, NOBODY saw my writing, except a few select two or three friends. My first Leap Of Faith was to start my blog and put my snippets out there publicly. And guess what? PEOPLE. LIKED. WHAT. I. WROTE.

    So my next Leap will be my parents 😄 I know my step-dad would cheer me on even if I wrote garbage, but my mom will be more of a critique-er. Being a writer herself when she was my age(and quite a bit younger too), I know she will be a big help when the editing part comes.

    *Deep breath* But first I just need to get the gumption up to show them.

  6. I totally understand this. I’ve also had a hard time letting my parents read what I write. But every time I give something to my mom she’s been very helpful and positive about it. Which makes me happy. :).
    Oh btw what’s this new story Not to Be?

  7. Very, very good post. I think sometimes we do get overly afraid that our family won’t like our writing (which sometimes feels like it equates to ‘won’t like us’) and even magnify that whole “nobody gets me” idea and don’t stop to think that maybe if we shared something people WOULD get us! 😀 My mom does not generally read the same genres that I read (or write) and I know some of my stories would seem completely RANDOM to her (though I’m looking forward to showing them to her when they’re a little more on the completed side) – still, everything of mine that she has read, she has been extremely supportive and VERY helpful. I can get lost in the story, and she takes one look at it and goes This entire plot point makes no sense and I step back and go O.o how did I miss that! LOL And some things that I’ve been like Is it okay to write this? she has actually had no problem with, giving me an extra 30 years of experience that is absolutely invaluable. 😀

  8. So far, my mum hasn’t read any of my major writing, but that’s mostly because I haven’t done any edits yet, and as of almost always homeschooling, I’ve had ‘proof-read before you send in’ drummed into my head. That’s just me though, because she really wants to read my stuff. It’s really nice. She doesn’t really read the same stuff Cait and I do, though, but she’s amazing at gramma/spelling critiquing. 🙂 Great post!

  9. While I agree with your general suggestion, neither of my parents are fantasy/scifi fans. I have enough difficulties explaining my reading to them–how am I supposed to explain my writing? And that’s just my original fic–I don’t even want to think about how much I’d have to explain for my most recent piece, a Doctor Who fix-it.
    Yes, they’re married. Yes, the first time he meets her she dies. This ganger thing is a goo-form that can be remotely operated…
    Yeah, a long story

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