Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Put It Out There

On my trip to DC this past weekend, I went to see some live jazz at a venue in the U Street area. Eric Lewis played piano there. He plays what he calls, RockJazz, which, according to his website is 'an inspired melding of ragtime, rock, and pop...'

He stands at the piano with an unusual stance, his legs drawn out into a standing split, and his fingers leap furiously across the keys, often using the underbelly of the piano as a drum and plucking at the piano strings of the baby grand, which creates a really unique and, often, eerie sound. His compositions are just as physical as they are musical and I found him really entertaining to watch and listen to.

At one point he played a song he had never played for an audience before. When he was done, he told us that it still needed a lot of work and he wasn't entirely happy with it but 'like every creative endeavor, sometimes you just have to put it out there. You know."

And...I did. As a writer, it can be so valuable to set your words free. I think a lot of people hold on to their work, hiding it from the rest of the world, keeping it close to their hearts. And they think, when it's ready, when it's perfect, I will let it go. For so many years I didn't let a single soul see my work. At the time, maybe that's what I needed to do for myself.

But, I can't tell you what a relief it was to just...let go. Sometimes we need to unleash it before it's ready. Before we're really sure. Because, as scary as it can be, it can also be rewarding to send it out to a reader, then go back to the page knowing it has already made it's debut and that it's time to perfect it for the rest of it's run.


  1. I have a problem with putting my work out there and I'm especially nervous when my short story is finished, to send it to a publisher. However, in order to get anywhere, I realise that I'm going to just have to be brave and go for it. If I don't do it, I'll always be wondering 'What if...'

  2. There is something very freeing about passing your work along to a reader--especially one who will strive with you to make it great. I have a few readers like that and knowing their crits will serve the story well makes me quicker to place it in their hands. Extra eyes can help root out problems quicker.

  3. There is nothing as amazing as letting go. Glad you got the opportunity. I love attending live performances. LOVE IT.

  4. Great post, Melissa. I'm not good at sharing my work. As for reading it out aloud to a group - no way!

  5. That's such a scary thing to do. I know what you mean. I don't know how I'll handle it, letting my WIP go...

  6. I didn't let anybody see my work for years either. I try not to beat myself up over those years I wasted because I think you're ready when you're ready, but I hope people who haven't made the leap of sharing their work will read your post and be inspired to take that next step.

  7. Yes, it is so important to 'put it out there'; give it its freedom. I feel a mixture of terror and achievement, combined. Then, I feel desrted, as if the work has left me - walked out on me. It is similar to the feeling of the end of a stage production - all that work and effort and it is over. However, with a book, or story, it is only the beginning.

    My best wishes to all of you writers. It is not easy. It can be lonely. And very difficult to be heard. But it is such a special choice.

  8. Reminder: Be Jolly By Golly Blog fest on Monday! Jen and I can't wait for your entry!

    Melissa's blog.

    Jen's blog.

  9. Scary is right, Melissa. But vital as writers. We have to let our words fly free. And hope that some time soon we can count ourselves as published. Hoping, hoping, hoping...

    Great post, girlfriend.