Do you care if people hate your stories? I‘d like to be able to say ‘no’ to that. I like to think that the more truthfully I write the more people will like my stories. But there is an inner voice that sometimes asks: if you write that, might people hate it?
I suspect the hard truth is that it’s true. The more uncompromising you are in expressing yourself, the more people will hate your writing. I used to wear quite … expressive clothes, and I was constantly getting love or hate feedback, not just from relatives or friends, but also from random passers by in cars, men and women of all ages. I had no intention of shocking or delighting anyone, I just wanted to feel I was truly being honest about myself. I’m thinking that writing is probably the same.
It helps to realise that having someone hate what you do (and tell you about it in no uncertain terms) is not the worst that can happen. The worst that can happen is when the majority of your readers gives you a ho-hum response. The problem with focusing on what might happen if people hate your story is that you begin to censor yourself –(oh golly, aunty such and such is going to hate this … my friends will think I’m crazy … no editor’s going to touch this …).
We might not even notice we’re engaging in this self-censorship. It’s a little like wearing a new dress out, only to have someone (perhaps someone we want to impress) give a negative comment on it. We might not ditch it immediately, we just find that when we’re considering what to put on next time, we find ourselves suddenly not so keen on it, and maybe eventually it gets relegated to the back of the cupboard.
How many of our true, unguarded thoughts make it to the page? Granted, some may be better kept safely in our heads, but I wonder if many of us might lift our writing to the next level simply by telling those stories that we know some people may hate? We might find out that the more courageous we are, the more readers will say, I LOVE IT!