Thursday, May 24, 2012

That Fear . . . That Silence

I walk away from many writing events exhilarated . . . at other times crushed. And it scares the be-Jeesus out of me not knowing which emotion will rule me when I finish and leave.

And it frustrates the hell out of me being so uncertain of myself.

Each time I step behind a podium, a mic, even a telephone if the interview is long-distance, I have a plan, a rehearsed plan. I have passion, no doubt about that. I'm doing what I love to do, often wishing there were more hours in the day so I could do more, perform better, deliver more profoundly to those I hope to serve. Write more.

There aren't enough hours, days, or years to complete the stories I wish to write, or deliver my passion to the world to such a a degree that everybody I touch "gets it." I find that so important . . . passion. It pains me when I don't connect, and it pains me more to see writers going through the motions instead of jumping, dancing arms wide, being writers with something to say, wanting people to read their work so badly that they sometimes make fools of themselves. I would rather buy a book or read an article from somebody who trips on his feet, stumbles his words, or mixes a metaphor, and then laughs at himself, than I would the person who stoically follows the rules, shows the way to their book, then leaves the room, leaving nothing of themselves behind.

However, I think the worst pain of all to a writer is silence.

The silence of no questions from the room. The silence of no comments on a blog post. The silence of no ReTweets. The lack of likes on Facebook. The lack of reviews. Less than stellar sales. We all know some of these.  Hopefully nobody knows them all. That's sad when you try and wait . . . and are left waiting. Maybe that's why some leave quickly, afraid to see nobody has questions.

Such silence can make a writer choke on self-doubt, even shove them toward quitting. Why do writers feel ashamed when others don't read them? It's failure on an extremely high level, and we often quietly "disappear into that good night."

We'd rather be rejected, have something  proactively to address, gnaw on, or refute. Even booing is a response. Give us a bone, for God's sake.

But that silence . . . oh God that silence.

Writing should be my voice, the page my podium.

But it's not. Not in this world where noise is required before you can be seen and then make your point. So just remember this:

== When you read a book, write a review . . . somewhere. Leave your thank you for the writer who dared expose his heart and oh-so-sensitive soul to you.

==When you read a blog post that is smart, touching, witty, or informative, leave a comment. Or forward it, Tweet it, FB mention it. Again, thank the person for daring to show personality to a very critical world.

==When you hear a writer speak, watch him, follow him, then clap madly at the end. Ask a question, just so he knows you listened. Thank him for being there . . . for being him . . . for giving to you.

Some may wonder what's brought such a melancholy post, but the fact is, I'm writing for so many who've confided in me about one of these points or another. Maybe the latest email just pushed me far enough. So many silently hurt, almost physically, at the platform effort, dog-and-pony show we're forced to endure, even if only online.

I want to tell them to DARE!
I want to tell them to APPRECIATE DARING in others!

I want people to feel better, try with passion, and know that every time they receive silence in response to their effort, thousands others understand. Keep trying.

Dare NOT to be silent, no matter which side of the podium you're on. Appreciate each other. The passion, talent, and success spewed into the world would be astounding.


Sioux Roslawski said...

That is so true, Hope. At the critique group I am lucky enough to belong to, we hand out our pieces and read them silently. If it's a serious piece, there's (thankfully) no laughter, but I watch their facial expressions (out of the corner of my eye) to get some glimmer of what they're thinking...Even worse, when it's SUPPOSED to be funny--if there's not many smiles or snorts...

Yes, in this case, silence is NOT golden.

Amy Dingmann said...

Absolutely. As a writer, I collapse into a puddle of self doubt when I don't get feedback. I just had a long discussion today with another blogger asking how to get more comments on my blog. She said "What makes you think that just because people aren't commenting, they aren't liking what they are reading?" I guess that's just not how I roll. ;) It is so important for a writer (especially) to NOT hear that silence. Thank you for this was SO timely for me today. :)

Hope Clark said...

So happy this is timely. Silence to our writing is hard. That's why as writers we need to keep that in mind and respond in kind to what we read, who we hear. Give and take. We can make a change in people's lives with this mindset.

Civil War Horror (Sean McLachlan) said...

When I did a reading in Madrid a few weeks ago I told a friend who I knew would attend to prepare a question. There's nothing worse than opening the evening up for questions and being greeted with the sound of crickets. Luckily I had a good audience and didn't need my friend's services. He asked a question anyway!
I agree about writing reviews. I've been picking up on my Goodreads activity. Goodreads has a tool that allows you to cut and paste the HTML from the review straight into your blog. That fills a blog post for one day and widens the readership of the review.
You'll be getting a review eventually, Hope! i have a long reading list!

Lyn Fairchild Hawks said...

Hear, hear! :-) I'm with you wholeheartedly on this, because it's been so hard to "blog along" for so many posts and not hear back....never mind not hear from agent queries, the gazillion lit mag submissions, you name it.

But there is some odd comfort from a few folks I know (actually, I've had at least 10 friends or writing colleagues say this)--"I read your blog and really liked it." They tell me they like to "stalk" or that they never have anything to say, but they did read the whole thing. I guess their verbal acknowledgment is plenty in a sense. And like you say, we must make an individual connection with as many as possible, so I'll just cling to that when the crickets are all I hear. And revisit what I need to do better in my blogging, etc., to get some response.


Audrey said...

Thank you for saying what I have felt over the years. I gave up on writing a few years ago...but, I missed it and I'm back at the computer once again.

I'm trying to encourage the voice of belief in myself to drown out the voice of doubt. When I receive positive feedback it sends me back to the keyboard with an optimistic energy. It keeps me going.

Thanks for encouraging us!

Hope Clark said...

See??? Everybody feels this way. What we can do is set the example. Leave comments. Ask questions. Be the one who breaks the silence. Great!

And Lyn, your friends SHOULD leave comments. Just ask if they would with a big please!

Sarah Schlosser said...

Yes, yes, a thousand times yes...thank you for sharing something that I can never seem to express to my friends and family enough.

By the way, when I feel at my lowest in terms of connection, I take that moment to find something I like on the web and comment/review on it...the writer likes that connection, and I get one for free. Thank you for posting that life-raft this morning for me, and for us all. :)

Janet Hartman said...

So true. And we deal with potential silence every step of the journey as writers - like when we get no response to a query.

Lynna said...

Just when I had decided to quit writing my blog, several chose to comment. Such a tiny bit of encouragement was all I needed to continue.

Your encouragement lets me know I am not alone in this need for appreciation.

Thank you so much.

Hope Clark said...

We have to practice what we wish for, though. Just remember that.

Unknown said...

If you want a literary life, I think you have to engage with other literary-minded folks. Write the author whose book you loved, comment when something resonates with you. I prefer being an observer, but I have decided over the last few months that if I want people to validate me with words/letters/comments, I have to do the same to them. I give this post a thumbs up. =)