On Sharing

I went home this weekend. I saw my parents (which was nice) and shared a room with two yowling and traumatized cats (which wasn’t) and ate and visited and had a generally good time. Inevitably, the subject of my writing came up. My mom asked how it was going and was I through with my book yet? I tried to explain revising and querying and the critique group that went kaput, but in the end, Mom really just wanted to know when I was going to let her read what I’d written.

Nothing makes me more uncomfortable than someone I know, particularly someone I’m related to (by blood or marriage), asking if they can read what I wrote.

Is that weird?

I feel like that’s weird.

I’m pursuing publication. The dream is that one day my book will be read by many people I don’t know. Many complete strangers. And yet, I’m hesitant to hand a draft over to my family.

This is true in other areas of my life, too. Years and years and years ago I kept a blog. This was back before they were known as blogs and were mostly online confessionals. I spilled my hopes and dreams onto a public web site that about a hundred people checked into each day. My housemates didn’t know about it. My parents found it, but weren’t very interested in it. It felt very anonymous. Safe.

Years later, after that journal petered out and Livejournal became all the rage, I signed up for one of those and instantly connected with friends I saw weekly, monthly. I recorded my day. I moaned about my job. I talked about writing, or rather, wanting to write. But it wasn’t the same. My friends were reading it. I had an image of myself that I felt I had to maintain. There was always a part of me holding back.

Still is.

My fiction is different. It’s not confessional. There might be some things based on my life (isn’t there always?), but it’s not autobiographical.  But there is a part of my writing that almost feels to personal to share with some people. It’s odd who those people turn out to be. Critique partners? Let ’em rip into it.  My best friend? I will hand a draft over to her in a minute. My mother. . . ?  Can read the book if it ever gets published. Or when it’s close to being published.

There are a handful of people who have offered to read this manuscript and I just can’t take them up on it. Is it because I’m afraid they will see themselves in my writing? Is it because they will see to much of me? I don’t know.

Who reads your stories? Who doesn’t?

2 thoughts on “On Sharing

  1. Oh thank god, it’s not just me.

    I’m really weird about showing my writing to my family and always have been, whether it’s fiction or nonfiction. With my parents, it’s almost like I’m afraid of them finding out Things by way of the writing and having to explain them; I think it’s related to the kind of embarrassment you feel when you go to a movie with a parent and then discover there’s a sex scene in the middle of it.

    Fiction is obliquely personal in a way that blogs and diaries aren’t. It’s also open to misinterpretation; if I wrote a story where the protagonist was, say, prone to self-harm, I’m pretty sure that I’d have to field family questions about “you didn’t do that when you were fifteen, did you?!” Hence, perhaps, the wariness of sharing with the family.

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  2. Yep, this is me too. I’m terrified at the concept of sharing my novels with my family, and I’m not sure why. Maybe because they’ll see more of me than I want them to? I’m even hesitant about letting my husband read them, but I’m getting better with that because he provides good feedback.

    It’s weird, because I’ve had a few short stories published and my family has read those. Of course, my Father misinterpreted one a little and I wasn’t sure how to correct him… so maybe I’m afraid of that happening with a longer work. Or them being ‘disappointed’ because of the themes and cursing (I don’t swear, but my YA characters do). I’m really not sure how to handle it.

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