Naked, but Still Writing
We all have our personal equivalent of the “naked dream” where your vulnerable anatomy is revealed to an auditorium of peers who publicly humiliate or unmask you in some way.
Lately I’ve been exploring the feelings that come up around bad reviews and negative criticism since publishing my two new books, Make a Scene, and Write Free. Fortunately for the sake of blog post material, I received another crappy review, this one asking the very question that pulls at the seams of my tightly sewn writer’s persona, rendering me naked to the jeering crowd.
Why, asked the gentleman, should he have expected a book on writing to offer him anything useful when the author had not published a novel to speak of? (I paraphrase)
Was I, the gentleman pointed out in his cocksure manner, another example of the old axiom, “those who can’t do, teach?” (my words).
I’m afraid to admit this one stung precisely because I have asked myself this same question, waiting to be revealed as a fake. What if all those novels I’ve written—the prerequisite “5 or 6 unpublished novels hiding in a drawer” are all I will ever have to show of a literary life? What if all the hours I’ve spent building structures and implanting characters within them, spinning out tales and stories and yarns, never produce a saleable work of fiction?
Should I then turn off my analytical eye, blind the part of me that is, for some reason, pretty darn good at seeing and understanding the elements of the craft of fiction even as I struggle to make them work for me?
My answer is that I believe there is a difference between someone who teaches but does not practice their subject, and one who teaches and practices and still has a ways to go along the path, maybe a lifetime. I may not be "there" yet, but I'm still on my way.