“There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit down at a typewriter and bleed.”
It has taken me a long time to get used to the idea of having people read my work. This sounds counter-intuitive, I’m sure. I want to be a published author, so isn’t the point to have people read what I create?
Of course it is – but that doesn’t mean that it isn’t a bit scary.
I’ve published a few articles in Canadian magazines. I wasn’t worried about the audience for those, mostly because I was presenting facts and advice from the experts that I interviewed. I wasn’t exposing a whole lot of personal stuff about me, so anyone from my parents to my elementary school crush could have read those articles and I would have been perfectly comfortable.
I’m hoping to get at least one short story published this year…which brings me up a notch on the freak-out scale. Fiction, for some reason, feels more personal. Again, that probably sounds counter-intuitive, especially since an opinionated essay or blog post could potentially reveal more about me than a made-up story, but this would be something that I created. Even if the characters aren’t anything like me and the trials that I put them through bear no resemblance to anything in my own life, it feels like a bigger piece of me would end up on that page than on any of those glossy magazine pages.
So, when it comes to my book….I mean, this thing is my baby. I’ve had this idea in my head for nearly four years. I’m crazy about my characters. I’m creating a storyline in a world that isn’t ours. I’m constructing….all of it.
I haven’t actually done this yet, but I’m pretty sure that I’ll be fairly comfortable (ha!) sharing the final polished draft with my close friends (and my husband) who have already generously volunteered to be my beta readers. I trust them. They don’t have to love it (that’s not why I’ll share it with them), but having them read it will be part of the process. I’ll use their feedback. It will be constructive. I do believe that they’ll want to help me produce the best draft that I can (that’s why I asked them to be my readers!), so even if it ends up being nerve-wracking, I know that they’ll have my best interests in mind.
BUT – if (when!) the book is published…..The idea of having strangers read it (and love it or hate it) doesn’t freak me out at all. (They’re strangers! So what?) The really weird thing that I’ve realized is that the idea of having acquaintances read it does freak me out. A lot. The idea of having random people that I went to high school with…or grad school with…or worked with years ago…Oh, man. Having them read it? They kinda, sorta knew me, but talk about increasing the exposure when they read my book.
I mean, I might as well show up on their front porch. Naked.
The freak-out level for short stories doesn’t stretch all the way to “naked”…maybe just to “wardrobe malfunction”…but the whole book? Yikes. I don’t know how I couldn’t feel exposed. And it’s not like I would even need to know that those old acquaintances read it (or what they thought of it) – it’s really just the idea.
Here’s hoping that, when the time comes, I will be put at ease by the faith that my (currently non-existent) agent and publisher will put into my book. If I decide to self-publish it, here’s hoping that some rave reviews from strangers will soothe me.
Until then, I’m going to assume that it will feel like I’m running naked through the streets.