Have you ever had a plan to do something you knew all along you had to do, but when the time came, you hesitated and were filled with doubt?
Do you remember the day you had to let go and trust your baby to take her first wobbly steps? Or watch him toddle off without you, to catch the bus to kindergarten for the first time? Or do you recall filling with anxiety when you gave her the keys to the family car, and she drove off by herself with her brand-new drivers licence? When these events came up in my life, I visualized a miles-long, psychological umbilical cord stretching out between us, connecting us. I wanted to hold on to my baby, nervous she might stumble, afraid he wasn’t ready, terrified she would crash and burn.
I know, I know. I’m being dramatic. These things occur every day in people’s lives, and everything almost always turns out fine. My babies have grown up, and they both turned out great.
So I was surprised two days ago, when these emotions came back full force as I relinquished my newest baby, my completed novel, into a reader’s hands for its first critique. (You didn’t think I was referring to a real baby, did you? )
Conceived sixteen months earlier, then outlined, written, revised, and edited, my novel rested, finished at last. I knew a critique was the next necessary step. But was it truly ready? Was I letting go too soon? Had I edited, and re-edited, enough?
I can’t let you go!
I paced. I fidgeted. I waited to hear the first damning word of criticism, or a longed-for word of praise. Tough stuff to wait for when it’s about something that consumed your thoughts and attention for so many months. And my own objectivity flew out the window weeks ago.
Happily, it was praise. My reader is now a third of the way through, and suggestions of tweaks have been miniscule. I realize he has a way to go yet, but I’m encouraged already for three reasons:
1. In the first sitting, he planned to read the first three chapters, but read the fourth because he said it was hard to put down. (!)
2. By the second chapter, he said vehemently about one of the antagonists: “I hate her!”
3. Even though it isn’t his usual genre (my book is geared more toward a female readership), he admitted that his interest had been captured, and I should go ahead and start the sequel I’d been considering. Yay!
So far, so good. Maybe now I can stop worrying and relax a little.
Have you ever felt on edge when you allowed someone to evaluate a creative project of yours? Please share your experiences with me!