"Humiliation is not, of course, unique to writers. However, the world of letters does seem to offer a near-perfect microclimate for embarrassment and shame. There is something about the conjunction of high-mindedness and low income that is inherently comic; something about the presentation of deeply private thoughts--carefully worked and honed into art over the years--to a public audience of strangers, that strays perilously close to tragedy. It is entirely possible, I believe, to reverse Auden's dictum that 'art is born out of humiliation.'" Robin Robertson, editor, Mortification: Writers' Stories of Their Public Shame, 2004
Of course, you don't need me or Robin Robertson to tell you about shame.
Just write something, anything, and think about someone reading it. If you felt a wave of shame, you are woefully normal.
Better yet, post what you wrote online. Someone is going to tell you what you did wrong.
Even a 140 character tweet isn't safe. Someone will tell you about the comma you forgot or about your and you're (as if you didn't know that).
The wagging fingered copy edit shame welding banshee isn't the only problem.
This only gets harder when you write series fiction. What if the second book isn't as fun as the first? What if everyone figures out what's going on? The second and third and fourth and fifth and sixth book must be as good as the first or...
Or what? You'll die? Someone will be nasty? Probably not.
It feels like if you don't get it right, you'll lose the whole thing. Suddenly, all these years of effort will be for nothing. The career you're building will falter, and you will be lost.
If you screw it up, you will kill your career and thus metaphorically yourself.
I think writers feel more of this because writing is supposed to be easy.
After all, everyone has a book, "right there", they say as they point to their temple. Writing is the thing that people do when they have time. It's the fall back for every college graduate.
"If all else fails, I'll write," says everyone everywhere.
Go to a party. Tell people you're a writer. Pretty soon, you'll learn how easy your life's work is and how anyone can do it and how everyone has a book "right there" and how lucky you are to have the time to do what anyone can do.
So when you commit a mortal sin such as "there, they're, or their", you're a complete idiot. After all, any idiot can write.
You will find your own brilliance inside your own shame and humiliation.
"By trying to get rid of 'negativity,' by trying to eradicate it, by putting it into a column labelled 'bad,' we are throwing away our wisdom as well, because everything in us is creative energy—particularly our strong emotions. They are filled with life-force." Pema Chodron
If you wish to be an exceptional writer and live an extraordinary life, use your shame and humiliation as fuel for your writing fire. Use your shame to become to a better writer. Use your humiliation to connect to your reader.
Open your heart to yourself, your own wounds, and pour it out on the paper.
"There's nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and open a vein. " - Red Smith
Take the writer's cloak built from threads of shame and humiliation. Look at it for a moment, and then put it on.
Now, get to work.
This month, I will attempt to share thirty thoughts about writing - one a day for thirty days.