On Writing: Should you talk about your writing?

I think it’s bad to talk about one’s present work, for it spoils something at the root of the creative act. It discharges the tension.  ~Norman Mailer

It’s called suspense. When you have a big secret and want it to be a surprise, the tension grows and everyone becomes more excited about what’s coming. Sometimes, I feel the same way about writing. I won’t say what I’m working on at the moment because I like running it through my mind over and over again, usually completing the work in my head before I even write anything down. For one thing, it makes the writing a lot easier, because then, the ideas just keep tumbling out. I’ve also tried writing from kernels or what seemed like a good idea, but did not let that foment in my mind at all, and to this day, they’re still just that—kernels. Well, maybe a few popped kernels, but not enough to complete a story. Maybe it’s superstition, too. Maybe some of us writers don’t want to jinx the work. If you’re all excited about what you’re writing and start telling everyone about it, your work might not turn out as good as you hoped or expected. Then, it becomes a big disappointment to everyone. I don’t like disappointing people, so I’d rather not tell until it’s there and ready to show. Maybe when my works are more widespread and well-known, and I’ve established myself as a great writer, then I’ll start talking about works in progress more. Yeah, okay, I do that a wee bit with very select people—okay, one person—but that’s also because I do have that lack of confidence and insecurity about my writing. I still can’t imagine my writing is good enough to put out there, but if I won a national competition, then I guess there’s something good about it. Still and all, I think I need to keep on practicing and improving on my work because I don’t feel it’s “up there” with my most admired works. Does any writer ever get over these insecurities? On the other hand, I have come across several writer-hopefuls who are confident that they’ve got a great story and write it and when I read it or, heaven help me, have to edit it, I find the most atrocious grammar and spelling, terrible sentences, poorly constructed characters, and a story line that’s either all muddled or going nowhere. Maybe I’m just too self-critical, and too critical of other works, as well, but I still believe in certain minimum standards in writing, and bad sentences, poor spelling, and highly detailed graphical descriptions of insignificant events make for poor writing. The only suspense there is in that kind of writing is when it will ever end!

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