Every writer is afraid of rejection. Personally, I’ve noticed that some of my perfectly reasonable internal thoughts can sound strangely unreasonable after they leave my mouth. Something about the short trip from the brain to the tongue causes so many great ideas to be lost in translation – internally brilliant but externally flat. Instead of thunderous applause and guffaws, merely blank stares and crickets.
It’s this fear, the fear of criticism (enissophobia, if you want to get your nerd on), that keeps many writers silent. It’s hard for a person to take something that they’ve invested so much time and energy, something that is often quite revealing about who they are, and put it out in the open – to be judged and dissected. It’s far easier to just keep everything locked away. But that, of course, is the absolute worst thing a writer could do. It’s best to get feedback, to work out the kinks; to know what works and what doesn’t
Putting yourself out there is easier said than done. Luckily, there are some great opportunities in this area for writers, from novice to seasoned, to grow and improve. One of my favorites is a monthly reading series called Syllable. It’s held at La Paloma Sabanera, a charming little coffeehouse in Hartford. It was started a few months ago by Julia Pistell, a a talented writer/comedienne (from Sea Tea Improv) who has been instrumental in Hartford’s growing art scene.
Each month the reading series has a different theme. For example, February’s theme was Love and March’s theme is Luck. There is no particular style or guideline with the theme, so a writer can take it in any direction they desire.
For the times that I have attended, I’ve really enjoyed hearing such a diverse range of material – from the emotional personal anecdote to the absurd satire. After I leave a Syllable event, I always feel inspired to go back home and write. The best way I have found to be creative is to surround myself with other creative people. Syllable is chock full of creative people.
Most important, though, is the supportive environment. Similar to a good open mic, the audience at Syllable is there as a sounding board for either finished work or a work-in-progress. The key word there is progress. A reading series like Syllable is for a writer to progress.
What’s also extremely important for a writer is to have deadlines. I know that I always work better with the positive pressure of a timeline. The next submission deadline for Syllable is March 17 for their March 21 event. Put it in your calendar and put yourself out there. It’s a great feeling.