Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Why I May Not Share My Manuscripts with You

Sometimes letting others read my work is easy. I hand it over. They read it. They hand it back. Done. I've been involved in numerous critique groups for ten years and have learned they are invaluable. I trust them. I need them. They are brilliant. They see things I cannot see, both the good and the bad.

But other times it is rather difficult for me to share my work. When I meet someone, I don't say, "Hi, I'm Elliah and I write poetry and stories for children, do you want to read some?" VERY rarely does the topic of writing even come up, but when it does and a neighbor/family member/friend discovers I am a writer, the first thing they say (naturally) is, "Can I read your stuff?" And that is usually when I cringe. Here's why:

Until I write my words down on paper, they are hidden from the world. They are inside me. They are mine . . . a piece of my soul. And letting someone else read them sometimes feels like I'm undressing in front of a stranger.

Take for example the time I was in college and I was out on a first date with some guy I had recently met. We were having dinner and it came out that I write poetry. His eyes lit up and he begged for me to take him back to my apartment, pull out all of my poetry, and let him read it.


The nerve. There was never a second date.

So don't take it personal if I shy away from handing over everything I've ever written for your Friday night entertainment. Sometimes sharing my work just feels too invasive or embarrassing. But not always.

I LOVE writing poems and giving them as gifts. I LOVE reciting some of my lines to groups of giggly children. I thoroughly enjoy sharing my poetry which has been published and should I be blessed to have one of my picture book or middle-grade manuscripts published one day, don't you fret . . . I will be marketing/showing off/shoving-it-down-your-throat. And then you will long for the days when I use to keep it all inside my brain.


  1. I am the same way. When people ask if they can read my work, even if they're writers, it stresses me out. I have to really trust someone before I'll let them read a draft. By the time something gets published, I've gotten over feeling so self-conscious, but when it's still developing? Yikes.

    On the other hand, when I was in college, I dated this guy who I kept breaking up with because he kept trying to tell me I was who he wanted me to be. Finally, I read him one of my poems and said, "This is who I am right now." At first, he wouldn't believe that I'd written the poem and accused me of pulling it from one of my textbooks. Once I convinced him the poem was mine by explaining the experiences behind it, that was the end of our relationship. So if anyone reading this is in the wrong relationship . . . ;)

  2. I hope you would always let me open the window to your soul and read your stuff. signed your MoM Love ya