I'm sure most of the writers out there will agree with me when I say one of the best ways to improve your writing/story is to have other writers read it and provide you with feedback. I learned this simple fact very quickly when I started writing. Forget the vision of a lone writer holed up at home, slouched over their keyboard in a typing frenzy, or more than likely staring at the screen trying to think of what to type next. That's only a fraction of what takes place when it comes to writing a novel. At least it is in my personal experience.
Without the help of the extraordinary writers I've met online I'd NEVER have been able to type the words THE END on my first novel, or revised the hell out of it, or produced a query worthy of requests, or even gotten any requests... I could keep going with examples, but the point is that if I had never trusted in these people, complete strangers, I'd still be struggling and most likely have given up. So thank you to each and every one of you who have inspired and supported me along the way. You rock!
Now comes the tough part of this post.
What about the people out there who don't support you and who aren't thinking of anyone but themselves? I have been very blessed so this isn't something I've dealt with personally, but I've heard stories from people who have. I'm talking about the Story Snatchers. Ick. How anyone could have the nerve to use an idea they know for a fact has been done is beyond me. It's wrong and it's pathetic. Now in my experience the people who have warned me of this danger, asking me questions like "Aren't you afraid they might steal your ideas?" aren't usually fellow writers, they're friends and family.
Which got me thinking. We writers must be a pretty trusting bunch.
How do I know I can trust the people I share my work with? Well, for me, it's pretty simple. I listen to my instincts. I only share when it feels right. I take the risk. How can you post on a forum, find beta readers, enter contests, work with a critique partner, or even submit your work to agents and editors without taking a leap of faith? Any one of those people mentioned could borrow a plot, a character, a setting and there's not too much I can do about it. But if I worried about that and didn't send my work out into the world to be read and critiqued or considered I'd never grow and my stories wouldn't have a chance in hell of becoming published work.
It's not that I think my ideas are so legendary or original that if anyone were to steal them I'd lose all hope of future publication. Because let's face it everything we create is recycled and pieced together from ideas that have lived before. But we work extremely hard and pour a piece of ourselves in every story we bring to life so I pray none of us ever have to experience something as awful as someone intentionally snatching from us.
As usual with this sort of heavy topic rolling around in my head it got me wondering how the rest of you feel. Am I too trusting or do most of you share my philosophy and take the risk and trust? Have you ever been burned? How do you decide who to share your work with? Do you ever worry about Story Snatchers?