Someone reads your work. Someone you know well. Or not.

imagesYou wait for a reaction. You wait with carefully composed expression that (you think) will not reveal the anticipatory wreck you really are inside. You try not to let the reader know how desperate and needy you are for an answer. Sometimes you wait for a very, very long time. Sometimes you wait forever.

That a person has asked to read your work is not a request, it is a bond sacred and serious (in your head, at least). You have allowed someone to hold your precious newborn; you trust that he/she will not be so cavalier as to drop it on its head, or abandon it in the slush pile of personal indifference.

Good luck with that.

No reaction is a terrible reaction. It is a golem handcuffed to your hopes. It is a thing made of polite demur…or indifference—and either is poison.

In the hierarchy of faint praise, silence is worst. Interesting is not much better. Fine and nice are enough to send a dedicated writer into trembling fits. Not my thing is cause to search out a bottle marked with skull and crossbones.

Like…now we’re getting closer. Love and adore are squirmy-gratifying. Worship the syntax you walk on…is psychic food. And my absolute favorite (this one real and as recent as yesterday, thank you, Glorious): !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Each word of praise lasts in the heart for a precise nanosecond before the eternal perfection-Jones kicks in and the elusive quest for craft takes over again. And that’s exactly as it should be.

The act of writing is an unending effort to surpass our own expectations. It is the tail we chase but never catch, the emotional hamster wheel that never stops turning. If we must teach ourselves to live on the spare food of faint praise, so be it. Pining for affirmation—but being acutely uncomfortable with it when it comes—is part of the wonder of what we do.

Now, what was that you were saying? It sounded nice….