A naked lady wandered onto my social media pages the other day. A very naked lady, if you know what I mean.
She followed me on Twitter and seeing only a thumbnail of her face, I followed her right back; I assumed she was another writer. Maybe she was another writer but I’ll never know because I blocked her straight away.
She’s gone now and apart from her body, I don’t know a thing about her. I don’t know why she sends those pictures to me or anyone else. I don’t know if she does it for money or attention. I don’t know if she does it willingly or if she is coerced. I don’t know if she’s self conscious and worries what people think or if she’s full of sass and doing it to rebel.
She’s showing everything but telling nothing.
Last night I took a leap of faith and emailed my precious book baby to a couple of people who kindly offered to beta read. They’re from an online writing group I’ve recently joined, so really, I hardly know them at all. And yet I’m trusting them with something deeply personal and important to me.
This makes me feel highly vulnerable and I worry what their reaction will be. I don’t know if they’re reading it right now and wishing they never signed up. I don’t know if they’re going to show it to all their writer friends and they’re all going to talk about how awful it is. Or maybe I have written the next Big Thing and they’re going to steal my idea and become rich and famous.
I am sure none of these things are true, but that’s the chance we writers must take when we follow the daunting but necessary step of sending our work to beta readers.
They say in writing fiction, the author cannot help but expose who they truly are. They say a writer’s beliefs, flaws and desires will all come out on the page and no matter how clever you think you are in dressing them up as something else, the truth will out. And so, you might say, writing is the ultimate act of self exposure.
My naked lady exposed her body to the world but as my grandma used to say, we’ve all got standard equipment, so no surprises there. But who knows what’s going to come out on the page when us writers get going; we surprise even ourselves.