I never worried about judgment of my writing before I started to submit my work. As I continue to put myself out there, and now that I have my first short story published, I find myself suddenly paranoid about what people are going to think when they read my stuff.
I don’t think it ever really crossed my mind before, though, to worry what the people I know would think of the subject matter of my stories. Well, in the sense that they’d be offended, anyway. My main concerns about judgment were more about whether they’d think my writing was horrible.
I don’t fear the horrible writing criticism much anymore, mostly because I know that I’ve grown a great deal as a writer over the years and most of what I write isn’t horrible. Also because I know I write better than a lot of bestsellers these days, so obviously there is no accounting for good writing anymore.
Alas, I digress.
At any rate, I use to be able to get past that fear because I only wrote for myself. I was the only one who would ever judge me. And boy did I. But I wrote for fun, for self-flagellation, essentially (who knew you could actually make money writing that way?)
Now I get past the fear because I know the different levels of writing and who sees what level.
There’s freewriting: the stuff I do to explore an idea or just to spew all of my thoughts and feelings out there for my own benefit. Nobody ever sees that.
There’s Zero Draft writing, which normally takes place during Nanowrimo (or any first attempt at a story/novel). I write more cohesively and carefully in a Zero Draft than I do my freewriting, and in complete sentences. The Zero Drafts are only seen by my eyes or a handful of trusted critique partners (although I will admit that my cheeks were on fire when they all teased me about a pretty graphic sex scene I had written).
There’s public writing on my blogs: here and my personal ones. I think constantly of judgment and how things will be perceived as I write those. I write them, re-write them, cut stuff, add stuff, change stuff until they are polished enough that I feel that they best represent what I want to say and that I’m ready to receive any commentary that might be received.
And that’s where I lost my fear of judgment: when I learned to edit my work.
I will always worry if a publisher will like a finished product. I’d like to see all of my stories find homes in anthologies or magazines or books. I will always worry about my grandma reading my sex scenes or my co-workers reading my horror and worrying I will snap and kill them all someday, but I don’t let fear of judgment affect my writing process. I’ve learned that the editing process is where I put that filter into place.
That, and you can’t please everyone. What I write might not be for everyone, and I’m slowly learning to accept that.