Every single time.
Students, workshop attendees, friends who want to write all say the same thing: “I have this material, and I think it’s pretty good, but it probably isn’t, but I don’t know, and I’m afraid to send it out, and so it sits in a file on my computer.”
Other writers, beginning and accomplished, say: “I have some work that might fit for that, but no, it’s not good enough, or it needs more work, or…or…or…”
Putting your work out there as an artist—any kind of artist—is an act of courage. Beginners and veterans alike struggle with self-doubt, concerns about whether something is perfect, whether it is finished. Here’s the truth: It’s never perfect and it’s never finished. Art never is.
If you wait for perfection, you’ll never share it. And art is not art if it is not shared.
I have a writer colleague, who will go nameless, who said once during a bookstore event we were sharing, that when she is finally finished with a manuscript, she is certain it is exactly how she wants it. Every little corner of it. That is probably true. She’s an excellent writer. But I would argue that she is only finished with it, that is only perfect, at that very place and time. At that very moment. In time—weeks, months, years, or decades—she will look back at that work—even a published work—and see something she wished she had done differently. I guarantee it.
There is not one piece of writing—published books, short stories, essays, journalism—that I have “finished” that at some point in the future I have not wanted to adjust, change, rearrange. A word here. A sentence there.
Perfection, like inspiration, is elusive.
And that fact brings me to this:
SUBMIT YOUR WORK.
The Hemingway Foundation of Oak Park, Illinois is open for short story submissions. The HEMINGWAY SHORTS contest is all-inclusive—beginners, veterans, writers of all types are encouraged to offer their work. And one of them should be you. Write no more than 1500 words and submit for a chance at publication and a grand prize of $500.
Here’s the link to do just that: Submit—Hemingway Shorts
Put your work out there. Make it the best you can, but shun perfection. You can tweak and edit and rework ad nauseum. Just let it go. It will do you good.
Art must be shared.