I was in a small group ZOOM call with 3 others from ROW and we had so much time to share our writing and receive comments from others in such a loving, safe environment that it helped to ease me into an epiphany later that night which was a long time coming. Before B read a piece of really wonderful flash fiction, she was doing what I always do before reading my work…apologizing. And A told her to stop apologizing for her writing. It’s not so much about outright apologizing, it’s more about how we present it and the self-deprecating way that we approach it. So, when A said that, I apparently took it to heart. Late last night, I was going thru my writing file and separating the things I’ve already presented in our Retreats from the things that I haven’t read yet. And while I was doing it, I was reading them. I came across a poem that I’d written that I love but the flow and rhythm just seem a little bit off to me. And, in my head, I was imagining how I would introduce this poem in ROW and damned if I wasn’t putting it out there with apologies. And it just hit me that I approach just about everything I write that way. So, I told my Inner Critic to shut the hell up and I reframed it. My Inner Wise Self created a new way of presenting it that was not apologetic but did address my flow and rhythm concerns. Then I started rereading everything…at 2:00am…and applying A’s no apologies comment to them all. And, damned if I didn’t realize something…I am a freakin’ good writer whether it’s poetry, fiction or non-fiction. My imagery is amazing. My wording is also excellent. My writing is thought-provoking. I’m a really good pantser in that I do not outline or plot my writing before actually writing it. I’ve tried every possible way and none of them have ever worked for me. The Snowflake method came close but the way it was presented was so juvenile that I just couldn’t continue reading. Even when I write poetry I don’t think about rhyme schemes or anything else…I just let my emotions take over and let it flow. And sometimes it rhymes and sometimes it doesn’t. I don’t think about my audience or publishing it while I write because I am fully immersed in it. I do go back and edit, rewrite, adjust, move things around, etc…, though. But even then, it’s all about what sounds good to my ear, not the thought that fixing this or that will make it more publishable. My method is to get it all on paper or the computer and edit it later. It’s better to have a little time between that first draft and the editing anyway. It helps me be just a tad more objective. Even though I had the “I am a good writer” epiphany, I do not in any way think that I am a perfect writer. No one is. There are typos, mixed tenses, poor grammar, etc…, but what is in the mix is good even though it needs to be tweaked. We all need to remember that! Our first draft is mainly getting the ideas down on paper and not overthinking things like grammar and commas. The second draft will tighten it up and be an improvement and future drafts will be even better than that. So don’t be distracted by the need for it to be perfect while writing that first draft. Not even Stephen King gets it right the very first time. We have to believe in ourselves, our ideas and our words. And never apologize. If we start out apologizing, what does that say about the work and the writer? Say we get our big chance to present to an agent or publisher and we start out with some form of an apology whether it’s outright or implied…how does that make them want to really listen or read our work? We have to start out strong and believe in what we write. Trust me, if there is even the tiniest mistake or misstep, someone will be more than happy to point it out. Even then, we can’t apologize. Acknowledge it, thank them and fix it…if it truly needs to be fixed. If they’re wrong, tell them politely that they are wrong and tell them why. I have characters that do not speak in a grammatically correct way so, in the context of my writing, that is perfectly fine. It doesn’t need to be corrected because it’s not a mistake…it’s a choice that I made. So, take all of the apologies out of the mix…even when we are talking to ourselves and judging our writing. Be a badass writer and trust your gut!
“Never apologize for trusting your intuition – your brain can play tricks, your heart can be blind but your gut is always right.” ~ Rachel Wolchin