I write to be read. Although of course it’s scary sending work out: people who don’t know me will be thinking about and making judgements on my writing – good and bad. But that’s why I do it.
I know lots of writers who have trouble sharing their work, even amongst the safe environment of the writing group I’m in, let alone sending their manuscripts out to agents. Of course when Our Endless Numbered Days gets a poor review (and all books do), it hurts and for five minutes I wonder why I’m putting myself through this. And then I come across someone who has loved my novel, wants to talk about the twists, what they have spotted, and the ending. And I realise it has touched them in some small way and that makes it worthwhile.
I think my relatively thick skin comes from my first degree in sculpture. At least twice a week for three years, us sculpture students participated in ‘crits’. All ten of us and our lecturer or head of department stood around a student’s piece and said what we thought was working and what could be improved. There were always many things in everyone’s work which could be made better, but most of the time (as long as the criticism was considered and a justification was made) I liked hearing what my fellow students had to say. Best of all was when I had a piece in an exhibition and I got to hear what the public thought.
Just like putting my sculpture on display, knowing my book will be read by strangers; that the words from my head will go into someone else’s and change in the process, is why I write.
Claire Fuller’s debut novel, Our Endless Numbered Days, is published by Fig Tree in the UK and last week won the Desmond Elliott prize (huge congratulations, Claire!). She has also written many short stories and pieces of flash fiction; several of which have been published and won competitions including the BBC’s Opening Lines. She has an MA in Creative and Critical Writing and lives in Winchester, England with her husband and children.