Letting my Baby Go – Tougher than I Thought

Have you ever had a plan to do something you knew all along you had to do, but when the time came, you hesitated and were filled with doubt?

196_24125258568_4360_nDo you remember the day you had to let go and trust your baby to take her first wobbly steps? Or watch him toddle off without you, to catch the bus to kindergarten for the first time? Or do you recall filling with anxiety when you gave her the keys to the family car, and she drove off by herself with her brand-new drivers licence? When these events came up in my life, I visualized a miles-long, psychological umbilical cord stretching out between us, connecting us. I wanted to hold on to my baby, nervous she might stumble, afraid he wasn’t ready, terrified she would crash and burn.

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I know, I know. I’m being dramatic. These things occur every day in people’s lives, and everything almost always turns out fine. My babies have grown up, and they both turned out great.

So I was surprised two days ago, when these emotions came back full force as I relinquished my newest baby, my completed novel, into a reader’s hands for its first critique. (You didn’t think I was referring to a real baby, did you? 😉 )

Conceived sixteen months earlier, then outlined, written, revised, and edited, my novel rested, finished at last. I knew a critique was the next necessary step. But was it truly ready? Was I letting go too soon? Had I edited, and re-edited, enough?

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I can’t let you go!

I paced. I fidgeted. I waited to hear the first damning word of criticism, or a longed-for word of praise. Tough stuff to wait for when it’s about something that consumed your thoughts and attention for so many months. And my own objectivity flew out the window weeks ago.

Happily, it was praise. My reader is now a third of the way through, and suggestions of tweaks have been miniscule. I realize he has a way to go yet, but I’m encouraged already for three reasons:

    1.  In the first sitting, he planned to read the first three chapters, but read the fourth because he said it was hard to put down. (!)

   2.  By the second chapter, he said vehemently about one of the antagonists: “I hate her!”

   3.  Even though it isn’t his usual genre (my book is geared more toward a female readership), he admitted that his interest had been captured, and I should go ahead and start the sequel I’d been considering. Yay!

So far, so good. Maybe now I can stop worrying and relax a little.

Have you ever felt on edge when you allowed someone to evaluate a creative project of yours? Please share your experiences with me!

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27 thoughts on “Letting my Baby Go – Tougher than I Thought

  1. Jennifer that is sooooo exciting I have only had this experience with my picture book and I felt the same and yet each beta reader was gentle, kind and helpful and now it is better for it. I am not sure how I will go sharing my WIP nanowrimo novel when I finish edits that will be harder to share for sure. You are doing amazingly and I wish you every success. Look forward to buying my copy one day.

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    1. Thank you, Kath. It does feel like a significant accomplishment. Now comes the part I have more anxious feelings about: trying to get it published!

      I wish you success on your novel too, sweetie. We are all sharing in this wonderful calling together. 🙂

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  2. Even after decades of writing and accepting critique, I still feel on edge. I’ve learned that it’s much easier for me to deal with critique when it’s in writing, not in a verbal discussion. I’m able to separate myself from the project better, to realize that critique of the manuscript isn’t critique of me.

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  3. Jennifer, what wonderful news to hear that the reader could not put the book down. That is the best praise ever. Good on you for taking the next step. It looks like your “baby” will be well received. 🙂 I am sure I will be sick with worry when I hand my baby over to be held and read by someone else…

    Blessings ~ Wendy

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  4. Congratulations in getting this far. You must be very excited.
    Is the person who read your book known to you?
    If so, it may be a good idea to send it to a complete stranger for comments.
    In regard to getting published, I note that the first Harry Potter book was rejected twelve times before it was accepted by a publisher, so take heart and keep that in mind for the next big ‘publishing’ step 🙂

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    1. Thank you. Yes, he is, but he is only the first beta reader I will use. A stranger is intended for the second.

      I’ve read about so many famous authors being rejected, that I don’t think it will discourage me deeply if it happens to me. I will keep trying and hopefully get accepted at some point. Thanks for the advice. 🙂

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      1. Actually your post on your excitement on finishing your book and the sense of achievement has got me thinking on what has been missing from my life…. that sense of accomplishment in achieving something for myself. Interesting how as mothers and wives we get wrapped up in our family and lose ourselves sometimes.
        This might be the indirect courage I need to get moving on something of my own.
        Thanks.

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        1. Personal accomplishments do wonders for our confidence and esteem, and give life more meaning. This is one of the positives of this stage in our lives, I believe. Now that the children are grown we have more time to devote to personal projects we have put off, or brand new ideas that get us excited. I’m grateful to you for telling me how my post got you thinking in that direction. I hope you go for it too. 🙂

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  5. Yay! Congratulations, I’m so excited for you! And yes I have felt like that hundreds of times regarding projects or proposals. It is like a baby, it’s like taking your heart out of your chest and putting it on a chopping block and hoping the guy with the axe is in a good mood! It’s terrifying! Seriously, I would hand it over and go into seclusion for a day or so…totally unplug…so they can’t get back to me hahaha! But then I always snap out of it…

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  6. Congratulations Jennifer! It’s all a process. It’s good to have several readers look at it to get a well-rounded critique. It’s funny how people pick out different things. But in the end, it’s your decision because it’s your baby!

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  7. Well done and congratulations. I’m sure you will have lots of great reviews to come. Huge move forward for you and your writing. Good luck with future projects and do let me know how it goes. Thanks for liking my author blog and for brining me here. Chat soon I hope. 🙂

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