Putting Creativity Out There

Over the last couple of years I have been writing fiction. This has mainly been in the form of short stories along with the first draft of a novel. The words have been growing slowly, building up in the background.

Some of the short stories have had an airing in my writing group, and this has been invaluable in a number of ways. Following constructive feedback, I have usually come away with a couple of areas to rework. I’ll admit that there are times when the feedback has been a bit challenging to hear, but usually once I digest the suggestions and revisit aspects which were confusing, the work feels stronger. I have been filing away the updated pieces, satisfied with the knowledge that they were as good as I could get them at this time.

There are lots of writing competitions out there, but I have been a bit reluctant to send these pieces out into the world. Late last year I read Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert which made me think that perhaps it was time to let some of my work go, to see if it could stand up on its own. In my writing group there was encouragement to get our work out there with a clarion call to collect rejection slips as we set our stories free.

I had been keeping an eye on competitions through a free weekly newsletter from the NSW Writers’ Centre and had printed out an entry form for a writing competition in Victoria. The form was filed and promptly forgotten until I discovered it, a day or two before the closing date. Fortunately submissions were online and I picked a story that met the competition criteria and sent it off before moving on to my next thought. When I came across the competition form a month or so later I tore it up, thinking that was the end of it but at least I’d tried.

Then I received a phone call. From Victoria. A phone message to let me know that I had won first place. I listened to the message a couple of times, stunned. The judge’s comments on the website said my story was charming and well-constructed. I felt giddy with delight. My story, inspired by a podcast about the vital role played by memorial halls in small country communities, had been good enough. You can find the story here.

So I will continue to create and dream and polish and put my work out there. I have recently come across the following in Writing Alone, Writing Together by Judy Reeves. It sums up how to behave as an ambitious writer:

The ambitious writer doesn’t hide her short stories in a drawer when she completes them, she sends them out. She starts with The New Yorker and works her way down. She doesn’t hesitate to approach a successful writer and ask questions, or follow an agent into the elevator so she can give a pitch. Even if she’s shaking in her Hush Puppies, she goes after what she wants. Being in the right place at the right time, knowing the right people, getting lucky, a chance encounter, a fortunate happenstance – all these might play a role in getting what you always dreamed of, but the ambitious writer is the one with energy and fortitude and stick-to-itiveness that the Elmer’s folks would like to patent.

Do you let your creative work go out into the world?

[Photo: three green owls]

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15 thoughts on “Putting Creativity Out There

  1. Congratulations on winning the competition! I’m so glad you found the courage to submit your short story. It’s hard to send our work “out there” but it is really what writing is all about: finding someone to read our words.

    • Thank you, Ann. It seems to be one of those dilemmas – you write in order to be read and have your words and thoughts understood but, for me anyway, there was a bit of a reluctance to let it go. For a while it was enough to know that a piece was polished to the point where I was happy with it. Starting to send work ‘out there’ is probably the next logical step 😊

  2. I am so excited for you. I am going read your story this weekend and I am so glad you took a chance. I enjoy Elizabeth Gilbert , and will add her book to my every growing reading list.

  3. Dear Jane,
    First of all, I loved your story, despite my usual need for dragons, metaphysical entities and women 🙂 The lovely unfolding of a new friendship and trust between old and young was gorgeous to read. Thank you for sharing!
    And then, thinking about letting creations go – I have until very recently been held back by fear… I know I could do better, I will get better than this, comparing myself with others… that type of thinking. So glad I finally got over myself though – popping the poems on the blog is so very very satisfying, they are little beings with their very own home. And this sense of satisfaction has me excited to write more as well, to try new things it literally has me getting out of bed early. Delicious – I highly recommend it.
    Thanks again for asking the question as I had not fully thought it all out (why it took a few days to respond) 🙂

    • Rowena, thank you so much for your kind words and for taking the time to read my story – for all of my bravado I really only shared the link and the good news at the prompting of a fellow writer in my group. At times there is something intensely private (for me, anyway) about the act of creating something and the letting loose of these combinations of thoughts and ideas can be challenging. How will they be received? Will anyone read them? Who will care?
      But then, like you have found with your poetry, you let them go, allowing them to find their own way, and the fear of how they will be received starts to abate. Some people enjoy what you have created and what a wonderful feeling that is 😁.
      And you are right – this act of creation and letting go in turn creates more space for … more creative work! I am so pleased that you are finding it this way too and that it is getting you out of bed early to write and create and explore – what a wonderful source of energy.
      Thank you again for taking the time to read and reply – you have made my day 😊.

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