Three years after becoming an author, my first official book review–of The Productive Writer, by Marj Hahne–has just been published in the Spring 2012 issue of Rain Taxi Review of Books. The review begins:
Thank the writing gods that Sage Cohen “compensated for insecurity by being overprepared.” Her second guide for writers, The Productive Writer: Tips & Tools to Help You Write More, Stress Less & Create Success, is generous, comprehensive, pragmatic, and optimistic—and departs from its kin by saying things we haven’t already read or heard a gazillion times.
The review goes on to reflect back to me the spirit and intention and love and passion that drove me to write this book in the first place. There is no gift like seeing oneself and one’s writing through the eyes of an appreciative reader.
I don’t know about you, but I tend to be so much harder on myself than anyone else seems to be. It helps me tremendously to exit the loop of my own “mean editor” and invite someone else’s feedback into the conversation I’m having with myself. Many years before I had books or poems circulating in the world, my friend Sebastian was my one and only reader. I’d write a poem, read it to her, and see on her face the mysterious alchemy of emotion and experience traveling from one heart to another, conducted by language. That simple circuit of my writing and her reading was enough to ease my loneliness and help me believe that my writing mattered. To this day, there is nothing more satisfying than knowing I’ve written something that Sebastian appreciates.
Do you have someone specific in mind as your reader when you write? Do you regularly share your work with this person and invite them to tell you what they admire and enjoy about each piece they read? There’s plenty of time for critique, and plenty of people who’d be happy to tell you what needs fixing in your writing. That’s not what I’m talking about. My hope for you is that you have (or will soon find) one person who will simply and reliably revel in your words.
Writing, reveling, writing, reveling. How sweet the writing life can be when we give ourselves what we really need.