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Premature Ejaculation December 29, 2010

Posted by nrhatch in Humor, Spirit & Ego, Word Play, Writing & Writers.

150px-Carlo_Crivelli_052Jodi’s post, Quickly Quotable #39 ~ David Sedaris, includes several Sedaris quotes about the value of allowing our work and our words to “incubate” before rushing to share them with the world.

I agree.

On more than one occasion, due to internet connectivity, I’ve been invited to “check out” barely started novels from unknown (to me) authors.

These authors are looking for reassurance that they are on the right track before they even have laid out the rails.

It’s a case of premature ejaculation ~ they are so anxious to share their words with the world that they spew out a few sentences, and issue invitations for feedback, rather than allowing their thoughts to surface and coalesce into a meaningful mass.

Focused on the destination of being read (or published), they don’t enjoy the journey of writing (and thinking).

Writing is not a spectator sport.

Writing, good writing, requires solitude, a separation of self from the world ~ at least long enough for thoughts worthy of sharing to emerge.

Rushing to post a barely started novel is like trying to birth a baby as soon as it is conceived, without bothering to wait the necessary nine months of gestation.

In the movie, Juno, a pregnant teen is dealing with the anxious potential adoptive parents of her to-be-born child, who can’t wait to see the baby.

Juno, wise beyond her years, calms them by saying, “If I could just have the thing and give it to you now, I totally would, but I’m guessing it looks probably like a sea monkey right now.  We should let it get a little cuter.”

Emulating Juno’s example, by writing  behind closed doors, allows our work to
gestate privately ~ giving it a chance to
grow and develop, and get just a little bit cuter, before being delivered into the hands of readers.


1. Shannon Sullivan - December 29, 2010

Great post Nancy. Yes I can imagine it is the wanting to be reassured that all the hard work is going in the right direction and thus the words are shared earlier than should be.

nrhatch - December 29, 2010

When I wrote on WEbook, I’d be invited around to countless novels each week and arrive to find out that they hadn’t even finished the first chapter!

That’s like inviting people to a party and asking them to arrive before you’ve even finished setting out the hors d’oeuvres. 😉

Paula Tohline Calhoun - December 29, 2010

Or even decided what you were going to serve – much less prepare them and put them out!

nrhatch - December 29, 2010

Good point, Paula. You start to serve chips and dip and then put them away . . . in favor of something else entirely.

2. viewfromtheside - December 29, 2010

by the time you get feedback you may have wanted to change the whole thing 😉

nrhatch - December 29, 2010

I agree ~ characters and scenes come and go as the story progresses.

3. kateshrewsday - December 29, 2010

Well, that was a rip-roaring title, Nancy! Phil was gazing over at the screen as we were watching the latest Miss Marple and nearly fell out of bed!

When we write, we write for our own integrity. I guess publishing tiny scraps to bolster one’s own self esteem would not be the way to go. I do, though, love the dialogue about writing that seems to bubble up when we share what we write. Flaws in one’s own work emerge, but other writers help us make it stronger. With the right collegiate group, it can help one grow immeasurably.

A very thought provoking post, Nancy – thanks 🙂

nrhatch - December 29, 2010

Sharing an excerpt or two (or twenty) wouldn’t bother me . . . but asking reviewers to come round and provide feedback on a still-to-be-written novel seems odd to me.

Like asking for input on a painting before the background wash has even dried. 😉

nrhatch - December 29, 2010

So glad that Phil didn’t hurt himself due to the title I chose for the piece. 🙂

4. Paula Tohline Calhoun - December 29, 2010

This is really great advice. I really need to hear things like this every once in a while, in order to “reign in” my brain. In the past, I have been so unsure of my ideas that I have wanted to find out what others thought about them before I even thought them out myself! I’ve gotten better about that, however! I’ve got tons of ideas right now that will probably never see the light of day, but then again, some day – top of the bestseller list! (Among my three closest relatives, anyway!) 😀

nrhatch - December 29, 2010

Of course, I’m not talking about wanting input on a short essay or poem which involves a minimal investment of time by readers and reviewers.

I’m talking about novels that may NEVER be finished. 😉

5. Carol Ann Hoel - December 29, 2010

Yes, this is true. The reader may be very much turned off by reading a skeleton draft. I think a young writers need input at that early stage. Once inadequacies and writing errors are pointed out, the writer will see (embarrassed perhaps by it) the scope of changes and fleshing out that is necessary for a reader to envision what the writer meant to present.

nrhatch - December 29, 2010

I expect that some of the novels were, indeed, abandonned due to embarrassment at the feedback received.

I see that as one more reason to keep our work private until we are satisfied that we have a story worth reading ~ in order not to be discouraged by the honest feedback we would receive on “just hatched” first drafts.

6. Maggie - December 29, 2010

It reminds me of people who obsess over their first draft and spend a week editing the first chapter, then give up writing the whole book. Just write the thing and let it flow naturally, then worry about editing later!

Awesome post!

nrhatch - December 29, 2010

Thanks, Maggie.

I agree with you . . . get the first draft down. Make sure you have a story worth telling. Then, edit.

All before subjecting others to your work.

7. Cindy - December 29, 2010

OK, can your next post be about erectile dysfunction?

nrhatch - December 29, 2010

How about “Rejection Dysfunction,” instead? 😉

nrhatch - December 29, 2010

You’re up late . . . or super, super early.

8. Brown Eyed Mystic - December 29, 2010

Well-said! LOL, and well-titled as well 😉
I totally loved that movie. You put your point across nice and clean. There’s no denying the blunders of the premature!


nrhatch - December 29, 2010

Eventually, I learned not to waste my time reviewing works in progress because so few progressed to the “finish line.”

9. Ollin - December 29, 2010

On point, Nancy, as ever! I did this with my current novel. I sent it out too soon for the very reasons you stated, I wanted to be reassured. Luckily the people I sent it to where very nice and understanding and just said I needed to keep working on it. But I really shouldn’t have sent it to them until I was absolutely happy with it. I don’t think I’m going to let others read my novel until I am happy with it. That means another year having to keep it all to myself, but I think it is better that way.

nrhatch - December 29, 2010

If you keep it all to yourself, you may be MORE motivated to finish it so you can share it with the world sooner rather than later . . .

In contrast, when we throw open the doors too soon, if readers aren’t wowed, we lose the momentum and enthusiasm needed for editing.

But . . . you might surprise yourself. You may be ready for Beta readers sooner than you think. Write on! 🙂

10. jannatwrites - December 29, 2010

I’m SO glad this post wasn’t what my gutter-mind thought 🙂 (I do think you should do that Rejection Dysfunction one, though).

You’re right – our ideas and words need to set (it’s kind of like Jell-o; I wouldn’t serve it right after mixing it.) Well, actually, I wouldn’t serve it at all – the texture is nasty, but it worked well for my example. I digress.

nrhatch - December 29, 2010

I think I shall. 😉

Bread needs to rise before baking. Jello needs to set before serving. Onion soup benefits from wilting the onions over low and slow heat.

Writers should emulate good cooks and not rush to serve their words to the world.

11. Debra - December 30, 2010

“Writing, good writing, requires solitude, a separation of self from the world ~ at least long enough for thoughts worthy of sharing to emerge.”

Great thought. Great post. Thank you:):)

nrhatch - December 30, 2010

Thanks, Debra.

Writers benefit by looking within for the threads they need to tie their words together.

Of course, people have their purpose ~ where else would comedians get their material? 🙂

12. Maybe I WILL Meet The President « JannaTWrites's Blog - January 31, 2011

[…] This is the case with my writing, too.  When I write a new story, I want to share it with someone as soon as I write it.  It takes great effort to leave it for a couple days and read it again, but this is what I do, because when I read it again, I always find things to polish.  In fact, I make myself go through a story at least three times before soliciting feedback.  (Nancy, at Spirit Lights The Way, has a terrific post about sharing writing too early – check it out here.) […]

nrhatch - January 31, 2011

Thanks, Janna!

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