Sometimes it's hard to let go.
Our stories are like our children. They may have been fun and rewarding in the confines of our minds and our home. But the time comes when they must leave the nest and find their own way in the world.
You might be forgiven for thinking that online writers post every thought and sentence they've ever constructed. That may be true of a certain breed of 'serial sharer'. But as a wise person once said, "A writer is one for whom writing is more difficult than for most people." Hence, writers who take themselves seriously are actually less prone to releasing their babies into the wild.
I've belonged to numerous writers' groups over the years - and one thing is clear.
Some writers get very attached to their children - over-protective you might say.
But it's not so much that they fear losing them or having other people love them too. It's more that they fear criticism.
Your stories can be superb, enlightening, full of meaning and powerful - until someone else reads them - and then they often become just another bunch of words.
Worse - your carefully crafted creations may become things that nobody seems to care much about!
They will say, oh, they're not quite ready yet. Or, they're part of a collection - and I need to write a couple more…
But there are many reasons why we need to get our stories seen - if only for our own sanity.
Submitting stories to magazine publishers can be a long and frustrating business. Endless rejections take their toll. But it can also be very nerve wracking once a story is accepted - conditionally.
I've had several stories accepted where the editor or magazine publisher has asked for changes, subtle and not so subtle. Even Stephen King has had this happen apparently. In one of his later short story anthologies, Mr King talks about the mighty New Yorker asking him to change the ending of one of his masterpieces - to perhaps make it less horror oriented.
A publisher once asked me to change the gender of a character so that the story might better appeal to their target audience.
A writer friend of mine was asked to change the location of a story - from the future to the middle ages! She refused and was never published again.
Sometimes zealous editors make mincemeat of a writer's work - in the name of house style.
But all this pales into insignificance when the big test comes: release!
So what exactly happens when you let go of your stories and allow the world to see them, feel them, poke and prod them and generally chew them over?
As I say to many writer struggling with releasing their stories, actually nothing much happens.
It's hard to make an impression these days.
Once in a while you'll get an email from a fan. More often you'll get contacted by a writer who wants to share their own work in the same genre - or point out some error you've made.
Again, Stephen King said that if he had to judge his success by his emails, then he would have to conclude he was a terrible writer. The people who actually like and buy his work apparently rarely contact him. Millions of people read King's books and short stories and yet they rarely let him know if they enjoyed them. But he does get many emails pointing out inconsistencies and logic flaws!
I've known writers fret for years over letting other people read their work. They often want to use pseudonyms, fearful of people they know recognizing their words.
I always advise writers to get their work out into the open - and learn not to fear the consequences.
Simply because, there seldom are any consequences - especially in the short term.
Over the long term you may have many people contact you about your work but usually by that time, you don't care what they say anymore! By the time people start emailing you about your work, all the nagging self doubt and nervousness has generally dispersed.
So, if you have some stories that need to be seen, don't be afraid. Set them free!