I’m not the type of person who shares her every thought and whim and desire.
Or my food, drink, possessions, or space, but that’s not what this post is about.
Private may be a good word for it, though I usually have no trouble talking about myself when prompted. It’s more that it never occurs to me that people actually want to hear about the stuff that goes on in my head.
So I get used to keeping everything to myself. I don’t like to be the center of attention or have people examining my work anyway—I’d rather hide under my covers, to be honest—so if there’s any one emotion I’ve felt in handing over my manuscript to my beta readers, it’s pure terror.
Letting people read your work is terrifying.
It’s exciting because yes, I’ve been working on this for the past couple months and the proud mama in me is glowing with accomplishment. But it’s also extremely terrifying.
After spending so much time with my characters, all I can see are the flaws or areas where it’s lacking. I’m a perfectionist. It’s difficult for me to see the good in my work, especially when I’ve invested so much of my time and effort into it. I’m as far away from objective as you can possibly get.
My character has a moment, at the very beginning of the book, where she pauses before opening something. Not because she’s afraid of what she’ll find, but because in that moment—the moment right before she opens it—anything can happen. Anything. And that’s what writing and self-editing feels like. Before you hand it over to someone, it could be anything. Amazing. Awful. Suspenseful. Predictable.
By opening the drawer—by sending my manuscript off—everything becomes painfully and wonderfully real.
And that’s terrifying. Because, dude, what if it sucks?
But the longer I go without sharing my writing, the less likely I am to share it. I doubt I’m the only writer to fall into this trap. Seeing the good and positive and amazing in ourselves is difficult. Seeing the bad is easy. Too easy.
Which is why, no matter how terrifying it is to share my writing with others, I know I have to. Because when my insecurities shout at me that I’m a terrible writer and that I’m going to fail miserably, that’s precisely when I have to give them the middle finger and keep going.
You will never know what you can accomplish until you take a risk.