Creative Writing Fears

So I’ve been trying to be true to myself recently by making time to write creatively while also being swamped with PhD life/dissertation stuff/class prepping/academic work. One of my true passions is creative writing and it’s so hard to not have that beaten out of you. Don’t get me wrong, academic writing is definitely creative at times, but it doesn’t hit the sweet spot that creative writing does for me.

Anyway, I recently had a flash fiction piece published here, at Every Day Fiction. I am proud and grateful, don’t get me wrong. But because I haven’t been in the creative writing world for a bit, I forgot how harsh and critical people can come off when they talk about your creative writing. It can be very tempting to just STOP and not try anymore when you feel like no one enjoys or is entertained by what you write. I think there is a pretty big difference between constructive feedback and just simply cruel feedback for the sake of cruel feedback. Some of the comments on my story, I think, fall into the latter.

So am I too sensitive? I think … not, actually. I have for a very long time struggled to articulate just WHY it is so much harder to receive feedback on creative writing rather than academic writing. For me, if someone gives me feedback on academic writing it is CONCRETE: This paragraph needs to focus more on structural dissociation theory. This leads to direct/easy fixes. But when it comes to creative writing, everything is so much more subjective. Don’t mistake me, I put my heart, soul, and blood into BOTH my academic and creative work, but I think the artistry really shines through more for me in my creative writing pieces. They are SUPPOSED to be entertaining and thus whether you like or dislike creative writing is subjective. Academic writing focuses more on practical application or utility … you don’t “use” creative writing for anything except for entertainment or food for the soul. You’re not learning how to treat dissociation in a clinical setting, for example. At the same time, whether I “like” an academic piece is less relevant than whether it conveys the information I need.

That’s why it’s often hard for me to read feedback on my creative work when someone questions a character as if to say: Well, I wouldn’t do that.

Well, YOU’RE NOT THAT CHARACTER.

Another thing I feel the need to vent about is credibility checks. When people comment: This couldn’t happen, or that couldn’t happen… well, in my piece linked to above, there are autobiographical elements and I can assure you that it is entirely possible for members of the opposite sex to sleep together in the same dorm rooms in college, along with many other lascivious activities.

Sigh. I think I’m done ranting now. Maybe I am just very conscientious when I leave comments on people’s work… whether creative and academic and I have to try to remember that I write not to please anyone else, but just to express myself or to convey something. If not everyone gets/understands/digests/or likes the message, then that’s on them.

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