On Putting Yourself on the Line

My website has been up for just a week and I am still at the stage of checking frequently to see who has been visiting and -even more importantly- looking to see if anyone has respond with a comment. When the stories were in hard copy, it was relatively easy to control  for reactions: I didn’t share with anyone who might be critical or unwilling to read the stories sympathetically. Now the stories are out for the world to read and I’m feeling a little defensive about them.

Of course the most likely outcome of putting them out is that no one will be interested- they will sit neglected and unattended. That’s a very likely outcome of the process of publication, I know. I am learning a little of what truly great writers must feel when they produce something that is misunderstood or ignored. I think of Dr Johnson’s letter to Lord Chesterfield when he wrote: “I had done aIl that I could to please, and no one likes to have his all rejected, be it ever so little.” I think of JK Rowling writing the first draft of Philosopher’s Stone in coffee shops, wondering if anyone would see the great work struggling to get out- and having the manuscript rejected by one publisher after another.  Of course  I don’t count myself with people like Dr Johnson and Ms Rowling  but the difference in the way we might feel about our creation is one of degree, not of kind. A  giant part of the protective urge I feel  towards my own writing is the simple love for the the characters I have  brought to life. There are moments in some of the stories that make my heart sing and reduce me to tears. In The Treasure of Thursday Island there’s the scene where things are at their blackest for the girls and they see the daft old ladies travelling through the night in the pirate ship to rescue them. There’s the moment in The Mystery of Loch Haggis where  the wicked  Moriaty, attempts to suborn one of Katie’s former  students and he stands up to the man so bravely.  Narrative  actually gives  the writer the chance to make the world kinder and gentler and more just. And boy, does that feel good!