I try to work out a few times a week. (Italics are there for a reason.) Pretty much, that means that if I have time, if I'm not busy, if I'm not getting home late, if I'm not in the middle of a good book or if the Food Network isn't making cakes and I'm not glued to the TV and can't budge off the couch where the steadily growing puddle of drool is, then I put on my sneakers and workout.
It can be painful. Sometimes, if it's been a while since I worked out (like if it's Cake Week or something), it can be very painful. I'll be giving it everything I've got and my muscles just ache. And I know my form is waaaay off.
It's not good. It's definitely not good enough to do in front of someone else.
Sometimes I feel like this with my writing. I can be working as hard as I can on a story and when it comes down to showing it to someone or worse, proposing it to a publisher, I decide it's good enough for me, but definitely not good enough for public viewing.
I remember the first time I ever showed someone who wasn't related to me my work. She was an English major. And so, she returned my story to me with red pen written all over it. Apparently, I have a fondness for fragments in my writing. And run-on sentences. And sideline characters who don't behave like they should. And a propensity to start in the middle of a sentence instead of the beginning.
All acceptable in fiction. Not so much for an English major.
My mom told me that one woman's criticism did not mean that my work wasn't good. I said, "Yeah, you're right." But seriously - she's my mom, you think she'd tell me otherwise?
It took me a little while to show my writing to anyone after that.
My biggest insecurity when it comes to my writing? People won't like it. And then, people won't like me.
Here's something you know if you're a writer: Anything you write is an extension of you. Whether it's a book, a short story, an article or a postcard, it's a reflection of you and your thoughts, feelings and emotions. Writing is hard, personal work. So, when you get criticism, it's even harder to not take it personally.
After some amazing classes and two incredible mentors in the Christian Writers Guild (and a fabulous family who has always had my back!), I've started to develop a thicker skin. I've seen a lot more stories covered in red ink and a lot more rejection letters than I've ever wanted to see, but I've gotten past it.
The thing that helped me most, though, was remembering why I write. I love to write, yes, but the real reason I write is because I want to spread the love of Jesus.
1 Peter 5:12b says: "My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that the grace of God is with you no matter what happens."
So, next time you've made yourself vulnerable and you're faced with that ugly red pen, take a deep breath. Remember Who gave you this desire to write. Then, toughen up and make your writing the best it can be. God deserves nothing less.