Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Respecting Your Stories

Yesterday marked the anniversary of the birth of the United States, and I spent it at the National Archives showing interested visitors how printing worked in Colonial times.

We used a large tray with movable type and wooden racks so kids could spell out their names and pressed aluminum foil strips across the letters so they could see how it "printed".

wooden tray filled with movable type

Printing is much easier today, but the experience made me think about how much thought went into their writing and the effort expended to make sure their words were read far and wide. 

Do we treat our words with the same respect, or do we treat them as disposable bits of electronic noise that we can push out with a press of a button and ignored just as easily? I admit to abandoning my stories to an online purgatory and haven't made an effort to promote my novel beyond the occasional mention to friends and co-workers. Who has time to be constantly promoting stuff online?

I bet they thought the same thing in colonial times, too. Our founding fathers were busy men, but their writings spread across the country in a time when messages traveled by boat, by horseback, and by word of mouth. The reason? They believed their words carried an important message that others needed to hear.

That is when I realized how little I thought of my own writing. 

If I had to hand pick each letter from a large tray and place it on a rack, where it looks upside down and reversed, then repeat that for each word, each sentence, each paragraph, each page -- would I be so dismissive about where I submit my story and not even bother to tell others where they can read it?

I don't think so.

So why is it okay to treat my stories that way when they are composed on a computer screen and published on Amazon, or Wattpad, or some small digital press? If my writing isn't worth the additional effort, then why should my reader care enough to read it in the first place?

To answer that question, I will be going back over my writings and see where they can use some more love. There are more than a couple that deserve more exposure and attention from me, so I must work harder to reach appreciative readers.

What about your stories? Are you giving them the respect they deserve?