Letting go of the fear of sharing my manuscript for the first time! (*cue Frozen song*)
I shared my novel manuscript with two beta readers about a week ago. And so began my confidence melt down. Two nights ago I realized everything I’ve written sucks and I should snatch the manuscript back and use it to roast marshmallows over!
Then, after a rollercoaster of despair and feeling like the next Sarah J. Maas, I finally leveled out and accepted that I’ve sent my book baby into the world and all I can do is hope that I’ve crafted it well.
Though I dabble in art and have always been active in creative writing, I’ve never been good at the sharing part. My first semester in college I was a biology major, but quickly decided chemistry was not for me. So in a serendipitous registration error, I became an art major. And I kid you not, it was just as hard!!!!
Now all you microbiologists reading this (likely N=0) probably have your feathers ruffled, totally understandable, but hear me out here. My instructors wanted me to spend four hours on one drawing. Then I’d have to bring the drawing to class and have it critiqued by the instructor, then my classmates.
This was problematic for two reason:
- Ummm I had NOT been counting on actually sharing my art with the entire class (reminder here, I hadn’t even signed up to be an art major… it was a mistake that on a whim I just rolled with!). I was a closet drawer up until this point and sharing my art was not at the top of my to-do list. A.K.A. I liked to draw a bunch of stuff and then vow never EVER to share it with anyone outside of my immediate family.
- A MANDATED FOUR HOURS ON A DRAWING?! I wanted to yell at the teacher for that! You can’t tell me to be creative on command! I’m a free bird, man! Don’t you have any respect for artistic freedom?! Then I got my head out of my a** and gave it a try. It was hard and frustrating, but I learned to slow down and let a project sit when I needed to.
In short, I came out of my artistic shell a bit. I’ve accepted that I’ll never make a career out of my art (I switched majors again), but occasionally I can pull off a decent drawing or two!
But now I find myself challenged again! I’ve shared my first completed novel manuscript with two beta readers. (*Cringes just typing that*). We aren’t talking about a four hour homework project here, we are talking years of my life into this hope, this dream; this piece of my soul!
I started writing this novel when I was an adjunct instructor and have continued it through my M.A. and doctorate. It was a daydream I had while driving to work that became so vivid, that in an almost feverish manor I began putting the dream to paper. It was like the novel called to me and there’d be nights where I’d sacrifice sleeping just to answer that call.
Now it is in the hands of two beta readers who can damn it, praise it, or (hopefully) do a little bit of both. Early on in a moment of pure panic about sharing the first chapters with my husband he commented, “How are you ever going to be an author if you can’t share your work?” Well shoot. He had a valid point and I handed the pages over and relinquished control.
Today I’m trying to remind myself of his wise comment as I wait for feedback from my beta readers. I love writing and I’d love to be an author. That requires me to put myself out there in a pretty vulnerable way and be tough enough to take the heat. Challenge accepted!