On Wednesday I handed my newest book to two readers. They’re my favorite readers, such extremely generous friends, who have enjoyed and promoted my previous seven books. I wouldn’t say I was exactly worried that they won’t like my eighth, or will tell me it’s total crap. Well, maybe I am a little bit!
It’s a strange and vulnerable feeling to hand my untested new creation to someone to read and to judge. Of course I’m madly hoping they like it. Of course I hope it’s as good as I want it to be, the characters are as likeable and believable as I tried to make them, the story as interesting and the writing as consistent. But it’s incredibly hard for me to find a wide enough perspective on my work to believe, without any doubt, that I achieved what I set out to do.
It helps that this isn’t the first one, that was a lot more unnerving. And it helps even more that so many people have given me so much positive feedback on my previous Sliding Sideways mysteries, that my formula and style resonate with readers of all different ages and sexes and backgrounds, not just the two dear folks I’ve once again trusted with a first draft.
But even though that goes a long way to reassure me, I still feel slightly anxious that they’ll find it less than satisfying, less than entertaining, less than those previous novels of mine that they’ve enjoyed. I find this is the most intimidating part of writing. This very first baby step of revealing what I’ve created. I have to imagine it’s a similar experience for all writers, novice or veteran, when they share their work with others for the first time. Does everyone undergo this daunting, exciting mix of optimism and doubt, pride and humility?
I count myself extremely lucky that I have good friends willing to accept what I create with enthusiasm and an open mind. It’s because of their support that I went on to write a second and third and fourth book, because they believe in me. I know they’ll be honest about their opinions in the kindest way possible, so I can only hope that they genuinely like it and respond to what I tried to accomplish.
Now comes the waiting, until they tell me what they think. Wish me luck!
UPDATE: As of yesterday, one of my two readers had finished the book – most of it during one afternoon – and apparently really enjoyed it. So yay for that! 1/16/2013