Yesterday, I read something I wrote aloud during a writing meetup. It was the first time I read something of my own aloud to anyone, and this was a group of almost-strangers. I felt my voice shake, and I kicked myself for jumbling phrases, but I got through each of the 819 words I wrote (although, at times, I unintentionally paused for slightly longer than anticipated, and a flicker of a thought about quitting midway and crawling into my own body quietly invaded my mind).
When I finished, they all clapped, and the applause that replaced my too-hushed words was louder than I had anticipated — to the point of almost feeling real. One person asked my name and said he would remember this when, implying, I think and hope, that it was a good piece. I thought it was a good piece, but I wondered if the positive feedback was to save me from the embarrassment of being told everyone individually either hated it or “didn’t get it” or couldn’t hear me (as I surely mumbled).
It is difficult for me to determine if what I think is good writing is actually good writing, or if it is only good to me. I think, at times, my style is unusual, and it maybe requires a bit more thought than people are willing to give it. Perhaps I only think this because it takes me a lot of thought and consideration to write what I mean to write.
I want to learn how to tell if what I think is good writing, is good writing to some kind of an audience. To do this, I have been finding ways to connect with other writers — such as going to meetups, and joining mailing lists and Facebook groups. I am very interested in discussing language and writing with others who share my interest in language and writing, so I can apply what I learn to my own writing.
This week, I started to take my writing a lot more seriously. In addition to the reading and my pursuit of network building, I left my part-time job to be a full-time writer. When I quit working full time in November, I didn’t think I was ready to be a full-time writer, and I thought working part time would provide a low-stress source of income, while freeing up time to write. However, even with the reduced stress and hours, I still found myself with a shortage of time to accomplish my weekly writing goals.
Perhaps, I am no more ready to write full time now than I was just a short time prior, but I feel more relaxed about the transition. And I think, for me to truly be ready to write full time, I have to write full time.
So that is what I am going to do.