How It Feels to Share Your Work
This won’t seem like a big deal to a lot of people. For anyone who’s fairly far along in the journey to Becoming an Author, or for those who don’t suffer from high levels of self-doubt, letting someone else read their book is probably a pretty small fry step.
For me it’s momentous.
And like so many things in my writing journey, it’s been a long time coming, and something I honestly believe I couldn’t have done before now. Not literally – obviously I could have very easily sent my book to my friend (several in fact) at the click of a button. It’s not the actual mechanics of sharing the book that’s troubled me – it’s the emotional turmoil, and for me it’s taken a lot of rumination and percolation on the idea for it to happen.
But it did. As I mentioned in an earlier blog, it was months ago that my friend offered to read my book. At which point I said ‘um yeah, maybe’.
Well that maybe turned into a fully-fledged yes. And while it’s been a journey of psyching myself up, I have to say that there was a definite point at which I decided it was time, and a very identifiable prompt. For me that prompt was listening to a podcast where a guest was talking about how sometimes you just have to show up and hope for the best.
(Side note: the podcast was called Courage and Spice – I can’t recall the exact episode, but if, like me, you struggle with self-doubt as an author, I’d highly recommend the podcast in general. In fact I plan to do a review of that one and some others that have really helped me: watch this space).
Anyway, back to my progress update. So, someone finally read the book, and you know what? They liked it! They weren’t raving about it and didn’t pander to me and tell me it’s their new favourite book or anything, but the feedback, on the whole was really positive. And this is pretty huge, because to be honest I don’t think my book is in the genre that my friend really likes, so that fact she likes the book suggests she also likes my writing, which is a lot more personal. We all know there are no truly original stories left in the world, but what we do have that is original is our voice. And the fact my friend enjoyed my book tells me that she likes my voice, which is enormously uplifting.
What’s even better is that my friend offered me some really valuable feedback – and they were very careful not to call it criticism which I appreciate. Now this was, of course, harder to swallow than the praise. But as I’ve discussed before, part of being an author is accepting and evaluating the feedback you get from people – it could be a beta reader like my friend, an editor, publisher or a genuine book-buying reader.
People are always going to have suggestions, comments, or sometimes nasty things to say about an author’s work.
In this case a lot of the feedback hit on things that I know I’m not the strongest at. For example descriptive writing and world- building. Personally I know that I get so caught up when I’m writing a story, and I feel so immersed in the world, that I forget people reading it don’t have the backstory that I do. And unfortunately I tend to omit this in my writing, preferring to storm ahead with the core of the story instead. My friend picked up on this immediately and offered some incredible insights into how I could develop the story even further. Some of these would be small tweaks – an extra sentence here or there. Others will require a much deeper exploration of the world I’ve created inside my head and a way to extract it and put it to the page.
At this stage I am just letting the feedback float around in my head, because I’m not quite ready to dive back into that world yet. But eventually that moment will happen where I just feel ready, and will do it. And I’ll have some wonderful suggestions to help me do it.
All in all sharing my book was simultaneously the most exciting and terrifying thing I have done. Yet on balance I definitely feel the positives outweigh the negatives. In addition to the pointers I got from my friend, I also got a boost in my confidence from taking this enormous (to me) step. Plus, as an added bonus, my friend shared their nearly finished story with me, and told me that reading my novel had inspired them to think about getting back into it. And whether my work changes the world or not (unlikely), I will be immensely proud of it, and myself if it inspires others to take a bold step too.