I am nearing the end of the second draft of my novel, which is the first in a fantasy series of two, possibly three novels. It’s an exciting time, because soon I will have a manuscript that will be ready for people to read. It’s also a daunting time for the very same reason. The thought of someone reading my story and passing judgement makes my stomach churn.
It’s ironic, isn’t it. We hope desperately that we will find readers who appreciate our creativity, yet until we receive the validation of publication, we live in fear that our hopes are in reality delusions. (And then there is also the scenario that many readers would enjoy reading our novels, if only we can be lucky enough to find that particular editor/publisher who believe enough to take the commercial chance.)
We writers need to have thick skins, along with oodles of self-belief. No matter how many people tell you they love your work, just as many will remain ambivalent. I’m lucky to belong to a fabulous writing group filled with writers and friends in both camps. The former help with the self-belief side of the equation, while the latter present insightful critical appraisal that — if considered objectively with said thick skin — helps shape the manuscript into something even better.
It’s true that writers must write what resonates with them personally, but there would be very little point if no-one read our creations other than ourselves. And that’s why I’m more excited than apprehensive about inviting others to read my soon-to-be-completed draft. Because until my ‘baby’ is read in its entirety by someone other than me, it hasn’t actually been born. The only way a story can live (whether commercially published or not) is in the minds of readers.