„At its base, for me, love is what writing is about. As an act of love, it deserves
our protection and our deepest respect.“
In her inspiring guide, The Right to Write, Julia has a chapter called „Containment.“ She opens it with a story about a young and talented young Scots writer she met while on a trip to Ireland. He was excited about writing and sent her a few stories. Then he stopped. When she asked why, she found out that he’d been passing them around to friends and they weren’t very encouraging.
In Julia’s view, this was a big mistake, because most people don’t know how to give helpful constructive criticism. „This being the case,“ she says, the wisest thing to do with early writing — and early drafts of all writing — is to practice the art of containment.“ One of the major assets we need as writers is safety. Broadcasting early drafts, says Julia, can make us vulnerable and short-circuit our ability to deepen and improve our work. Because we are eager for an audience, we can betray our creativity instead of safeguarding it.
As Julia puts it: „I think of my creativity as my most valuable asset. It is my wealth…Why urge conservatism? Because we are all inwardly wealthy and we can squander our inner wealth the way a fool squanders a fortune.“
How? By showing our work too soon and nonselectively. Instead of listening to our inner vice and preserving our energy, we end of letting it leak away by subjecting ourselves to outside influences too early in the game.
Julia’s point of view here struck a chord with me, because I think I’ve done exactly what she warns against. I’ve taken something very immature that I was excited about and exposed it too soon — and the feedback I received has sometimes been disappointing. Suddenly my drive and energy dissipated — and I lost the urge to continue. Has this ever happened to you? If so, how did you handle it?