I sent 19 poems to my best friend last night. And it was terrifying. As crazy as this may sound, at 25 and after writing for the past 15 years at least, I have never shared much of my work with those close to me. If you asked me previously, I’d sooner have shared my work with a complete stranger than someone who already knew me.
I think there are a few reasons for this, both obvious ones and really subtle ones. People tend to insert themselves into our work, thinking “maybe this poem is about me,” when often these pieces are not about anything other than what’s happening in my mind when I write them. They aren’t about you, they aren’t a secret message, they’re raw emotion that somehow formed into words on paper. Sometimes not even on purpose.
Another thing is that sharing these pieces is like inviting people to critique your soul. You worry about your poems revealing parts of you people won’t like. You worry about people’s opinions changing. By giving them these poems, you give them the power to judge you as harshly as they please. You welcome them to.
But you also take control when you actually put yourself out there in this way. You say “you want to have an opinion of me? Here. This is it.” It’s a balancing act. You don’t want to give up too much power, but you don’t want to take too much either.
If, knowing all this, you can still give yourself to your poems – then you HAVE TO. You have to do it. Do it for yourself, and do it for the people who won’t know you, not really, unless you do.