...For your art.
People that know me or that have had the "Scott A. Johnson Experience" at Seton Hill know that there are few things that royally piss me off. Among the worst of them is a curious habit most often seen in beginning/novice/would-be writers: Apologizing for your work. If I've said it once, I've said it a thousand times (to use hyperbole), never, never, NEVER apologize for your work. No matter where I go, be it conventions or workshops, there seems to be this great tendency among students to preface everything with "Well, this isn't very good" or "I wrote this fifteen minutes before I got up here" or something of the like. What that translates to, for your audience, is "I'm sorry, this sucks, and I'm about to waste your time."
Wow, that sounded harsh, didn't it? But it's the truth. By prefacing what you're about to read or workshop in such a manner, you're really telling the audience or your classmates that you have no confidence in your own work, and that they really shouldn't waste their time reading it. Why? Let's say, for the sake of argument, that you're at a convention. You've been asked to read your work. Let me repeat that...You've been asked to read your work. That means someone liked it enough to invite you to share it. Chances are, as I've said in other blog entries, even if it does suck, no one is going to stand up and throw things at you. The fact is, the people in the audience are there because they want to be there, and more than likely, they're already fans. Why would you tell fans not to bother with your work?
Let's say, again hypothetically speaking, you're in a classroom/workshop setting, and it's your turn to have your story workshopped. Why on Earth would you tell your critique partners that they've wasted their time reading something that you've put your heart and soul into?
The truth is, no one is perfect. Not one person who ever put words to page (myself included) is incapable of making mistakes. Writing is a risk. In fact, any time you pull something out of that creative portion of your brain, you're taking a risk. How many times have you heard (or heard of) someone say they wished they could write a book? Or that they have a great idea for a book, but they need someone else to write it? You, as a writer, have accomplished something that many people feel is personally impossible. You created those characters, you put them through hell, and you deserve the credit for it. Be proud of what you've worked on. Be proud that you are a writer. Never apologize for your work, because if someone else could've written it, they would've.
Someone once asked me, after I admonished them and told them to never apologize, what if the work genuinely sucks? What then?
My answer: Suck out loud. Be proud of it anyway.