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? ūüėČ )

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!

I Love Book Club!

I have to say that I am so enjoying the local book club a couple of friends and I started this past January. Just two nights ago, our group gathered for another meeting to review our latest selection. And such a lively, thought-provoking discussion it was.  We were happy as well to welcome a new member to our fold.  Delighted to have you aboard, Kathy!

To become a member of our little group, the only real requirements are a pure love of reading and a willingness to share your opinions. But that is where most of our similarities end. What a diverse group of individuals we are! From a teacher, to a couple of retired nurses; from a minister’s wife, to a self-proclaimed atheist; a homemaker/blogger (yours truly), a designer, and even some artists, we are a varied lot. Some are originally from the area, but most of us aren’t.
Naturally, people being what they are, we often begin with the book in question, but soon veer off on tangents, taking the discussion to unexpected areas where voicing your two cents worth is welcome on any number of topics. When we have come together, we have shared thoughts and positions on racism, the medical profession, capital punishment, mental illness, greed, and crime, just to name a few.

Our provincial library has been a god-send in facilitating our passion:¬† it has made available a long list of “book club kits” that we borrow from each month. All titles are either award-winning, well-reviewed, or both, and provide much variety of topics and tastes. Seldom does everyone love the book currently being discussed, but that often generates the most dynamic debates!

Here is what we have read and reviewed so far:

The Book of Negroes by Lawrence Hill
The Good Earth by Pearl S. Buck
Bloodletting & Miraculous Cures by Vincent Lam
The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town by John Grisham

Coming up on our foreseeable agenda is:
Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant (a fellow Newfoundlander)
The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd

Of course, a happy by-product of Book Club is making new and interesting friends, and in my opinion, friends so interesting that  they are usually reading other books, sometimes more than one at a time, in between our club picks.

Book worms, unite!  Happy reading, everyone!