Learn to Respect Your Writing
If you’ve hung around Be A Novelist for any time at all, you know I talk a lot about what you do with your writing. I am a firm believer that writers must learn to respect their own work.
In today’s post, I’m hitting on it again. This time, you are asked to bear with me as I share a funny little poem that came to me many years ago. I love reading it aloud because it’s the voice inflection that makes it a winner.
The truth of the matter is, we’ve all done it. We write and write and write and then stuff all of our work into a box at the top of the closet. Or into a desk drawer. Or a file drawer.
We don’t trust what we’ve written. We don’t trust our talent level. We don’t trust our abilities. We don’t trust the creative flow. So we stuff away what we’ve created. It’s so safe that way. No responsibilities. No pain. No rejection. But then, no bylines either!
Of course, these days, you may have “stuffed” your work into a remote file deep in your computer. Same difference. You are still stuffing it away.
An Aspiring Novelist
In my travels to writing conferences and writer’s workshops through the years, I’ve met so many aspiring authors that did this very thing. An individual would sign up to have a one-on-one conference with me (which most writing conferences provide) – let’s call her Cindy. Cindy is an aspiring novelist. She proceeds to tell me about her novel. Perhaps the plot sounds pretty good. It holds promise. Then I ask Cindy what she’s doing with the novel now and the answer comes:
“In a file drawer.”
“In the bottom drawer of my bedroom dresser.”
“The top of the hall closet.”
“In an old computer file somewhere. Gee, I hope it’s still there!”
You get the picture! Multiply Cindy times hundreds of aspiring authors everywhere! This happened with such regularity I finally resorted to creating this little poem to help beginning writers get a perspective on what they were doing.
As I mentioned at the outset, the poem is much better “heard” than read silently. I always read it in a very flat, sing-song tone. When presented to a group of like-minded fellow writers, it never failed to get a laugh – or at least a smile. Because every person in the room can relate. Can you?
Ode to a Drawer
O little drawer so neat and narrow
Be ye desk or file or bureau.
How kind you are to hold my treasures
Without a comment of if I measure
Up to any other artist.
Of all my critics, you are the smartest.
Slips named rejection I do dread.
Not to the mail, but to you instead
O little drawer, I have chosen,
To submit all my work. More than a dozen
Articles, stories and some housekeeping tips.
Your reception is never a rejection slip.
O little drawer so neat and narrow
Be ye desk or file or bureau
I daily wait, but you just never,
Tell me if I’m wise and clever.
Friend that you are, giving no reject,
I guess you forgot to mail my paycheck.
© Norma Jean Lutz 1992
If you are an affected “drawer stuffer,” perhaps this little poem will help you to see that such actions are totally fruitless. And perhaps you will see your way clear to change this creativity-killing habit. Keep that work out and in plain sight. Finish the project. Enter it in a legitimate contest. Or (imagine this!) send it off to a real publication or publisher. Do something with it. Stop burying your talents. Respect your talent; respect your creativity.
Here’s to no more “drawer stuffing!”
For more on this subject, check out the YouTube video, “Where is Your Novel?”