Putting yourself out there is scary. I think we can all agree that opening ourselves up to be critiqued, evaluated, judged, is a really intimidating process. You might think it gets easier the more often you do it but I haven’t found that to be the case at all! And putting your writing (or music/art/craftmanship/etc.) out there to be assessed is even harder. Basically you take this thing that has consumed your every spare moment; a product of endless hours of thought, and struggle, and passion, and means more to you than just about anything else, and you lay it out there and ask people to tell you what they like (yay!) and what they don’t (boo!). The idea makes me queasy. And yet, it must be done for us to get any better in the arts we pursue.
I suck at writing dialogue. I avoid having my characters talk to one another because, when I read back over the conversations I’ve created I realize that no real people talk like that. Every longer work that I’ve attempted has stalled when I feel the urge to have my characters talk because I just can’t write it out. It’s something I need to do better, something I know I’m not good at and yet, when asked to write a dialogue sketch, I balk. I want to quit before I have to submit something. What the heck!? I already know I’m bad so what would it really matter to hear it from someone else? Especially when they will also include ideas about how to make it better? When you figure that one out, let me know. It still stumps me.
So in an effort to face my fears of criticism head on I have enrolled in a course through the University of Iowa called How Writers Write Fiction. It has been really enlightening and engaging so far and, lo and behold I’ve even received my first writing assignment…yep, you guessed it, dialogue. I guess it was meant to be. I’m pretending to be looking forward to the feedback while reminding myself that this is what I need to be better. So tune in next week for a peek at how this assignment turned out (and cross your fingers for me).