I realized something today--this may be the only reason I am applying to Grad School.
I'm working on my portfolio, with about 3-4 serious stories in the works. I need revision and critique and outside help like crazy, so I'm allowing anyone who is willing to step into my world to read a story or two. I know I need it, but it's the scariest thing I've ever done. I didn't feel this way so much in college, strangely. Maybe it's because there my classmates didn't know me before they knew my writer self. Maybe it's cause I feel like now I'm just swimming out there amongst thousands of people much more talented than I am, and I'm not in a safe little classroom of fellow vulnerable writers. Maybe it's because the stakes are higher now.
This is what I realized: If anything, this process of writing is a process of humility. I'm the type of writer who picks up a story I finished 4 years ago--a story that won awards and served as my senior project--and scowls and wants to revise it all over the place. I'm so self-editing that the minute I recruit someone to enter my writings, I'm immediately more self-conscious. I have to let people into a raw, unrefined, evolving part of my imagination that no one else ever sees. After I send a piece and keep editing, I'm almost ashamed at the vulgarity of the former draft. It's very humbling. Like telling a perfect stranger your most twisted, bizarre dreams. Like your mom telling your new girlfriend you used to wet the bed. Like having your suitcase fall open at the airport and everyone seeing your underwear.
Of course it's all delusion. What am I afraid of falling from in my readers' eyes? I am and will always be Sarah. I try not to be a different person to different people. I think I'm still learning what this humility of writing is going to be about.