September 23, 2015

Bravery and Respect In Your Writing

By Susan Crandall

I’m pretty sure there is a book (or a story, a poem or song) buried in most of us, either borne of experience or imagination. A creative idea is like a trembling newborn fawn, unsteady and blinking against the light. The trick is coaxing it out into the open and nurturing it enough that it has the strength to stand tall and proud and shout, “This is who I am. You may not like or appreciate me, but I do ask that you respect me.” Who could throw stones and barbs at something so pure of intention, so noble of heart?

Over the years, I’ve discovered, surprisingly many. It’s everywhere you look—blogs, reviews, bookseller page reviews and ratings—anonymously uttered words of praise and criticism. Although I agree that all of those forums are places where people should freely share their opinions and musings on a book, it sometimes goes beyond, becoming the schoolyard bully, taunting just to show strength. It’s brutal to watch those trembling fawns of ours take such emotional blows.

That is when we come to understand there is much more for a writer to do than coax the fawn out of the cover or brambles and into the meadow. We have to learn to accept not only the words of praise that give our fawn pride and strength, but steel ourselves for the bullies. And it doesn’t take long to realize it’s not just the bullies that have the power to bruise young flesh, sometimes it’s the softest, most well intended of criticisms.

As a writer, I am never satisfied with my work. That’s why I keep writing; to learn, to improve my craft, to expand my writing strength. Only a deadline pries a work from my madly revising and refining fingers. So, yes, I know there is room for criticism. And after eleven published novels, I’ve come to be able to step in front of my fawns, take it on the chin, and forge ahead.

Writing is a profession that drags your most tender and vulnerable self out in the open, where rejection and criticism go hand in hand with praise and success. It is important not to shrink back into the shadows if unkindness or bruising comments come the way of your work. If you do, that work, that book, that poem, that essay will stay forever buried inside, crying to be set out into the world—where it can fight for its place in the hearts and minds of readers. Where it can stand proud and share what it has to offer. And, yes, receive the occasional arrow. But if you are compelled to write, to share your thoughts, a story, an idea, the journey is worth it and the world deserves the chance to see it

You are brave enough. You words are good enough. 

Just keep your head held high and ask not to be bragged upon, not to be agreed with, but only to be respected.
Susan Crandall is a critically acclaimed author of women’s fiction, romance, and suspense. She has written several award-winning novels including her first book, Back Roads, which won the RITA award for best first book, as well as Whistling Past the Graveyard, which won the SIBA 2014 Book Award for Fiction. She lives in central Indiana. Her latest book is The Flying Circus. Her Social media links

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