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If You’re Serious About Your Craft, Don’t Be Afraid To Show Work

Writers can be a strange bunch. Some want to share their work while others would rather not because it’s for their eyes only.

Such a shame.

I used to work with a guy who said he was a writer. I told him my background and he asked me some questions about writing. They were questions that only had yes or no answers.

The funny thing about yes or no questions is that the interviewer expects the interviewee to expound on yes or no questions. If the interviewee is on the ball, he would only answer “yes” or “no.” An example may sound something this: Is 5 multiplied by 10 equal to 50?

The interviewee would answer “yes,” unless he didn’t know his multiplication tables.

But I digress.

I asked my former co-worker about his writing and one would have thought that I was asking him for his bank account number. He didn’t want to talk about his writing that much. He said he was writing a fantasy book. I asked if I could read some of what he wrote.

“Oh no,” he said. “I don’t want anyone to see.”

“Why?” I asked.

“Because if it’s not any good, I don’t want to know,” he said.

“But how will you know if it is not good, if you don’t let anyone read some pages,” I countered.

“Don’t worry about it,” he said.

“I’m not. But when you let others see your work, they can offer you suggestions. You don’t have to take their suggestions, but at least you can get feedback,” I said. “You can choose to revise or not.”

“I don’t know if I’m ready,” he said.

“Sometimes, you have to take a chance,” I said.

“Well maybe, but not right now,” he said.

And that was the end of our conversation about writing to an extent. He would ask me questions about journalism and writing, but I kind of shrugged off his questions. I told him that he was not serious about writing, and it was kind of a waste of my time answering his questions. It sounds worse than it actually was.

I was just trying to be real with him. I told him that when deadline hits, journalists don’t have the luxury of holding back their work.

Under extenuating circumstances, yes, stories are held for different reasons, but not because a journalist didn’t want to file his story. I said to my former co-worker that he didn’t have to let 20 people read his pages, just the people whose opinions he trusts.

I never got to see any pages that he wrote. Although I disagreed with his argument, I respected his wishes and I didn’t ask about his writing anymore.

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