After a lifetime of writing for yourself, launching a book into the public eye is an amazing experience. The first time you hold that creation in your hand and think, “wow, it’s real,” is a reward all in itself that I’m not sure will ever be matched by another point in my writing career. There’s nothing like your first tangible piece of a dream.
It also means bracing yourself for responses you’re now openly inviting.
Your friends are gentle, your family is supportive; the public has no vested interest in preserving your feelings, and in fact seems to thrive on the modern electronic ease of cutting down anyone perceived as balancing on a pedestal.
So it is with a mix of fear and excitement that I put my work on public display for the first time, asking to be loved and hated, initiating comforting identification and bitter offense. It’s the nature of our subjective world that we can all inspire such a wide range of opinions. It’s beautiful and terrifying.
My writing is no different, and I anticipate as many rants and warnings to potential readers as recommendations and accolades. Of course I hope the scale tilts toward the positive, but I’d be naïve not to expect the same critiques I myself have offered on occasion.
Still, the final version of my work that I proudly stand behind would not have reached its apex without honesty on their part and openness on mine. I accepted the good with the bad, using both to strengthen myself and my work.
Can a book ever be perfect? Some may say yes, I don’t know. Having written a few, I’m sure the author would say no. New ideas, stronger word choice, and more captivating prose constantly intertwine with reader criticisms, reviews, and praise in a never ending stream of “What if?”
Yet, at some point you just have to close the file and accept that the “what if” is an “it is.” For some readers, that may prove to be an incredible experience they rush to share with their circles. For others it may be a rough ride they’re relieved to dismount long before the conclusion.
My skin may not be as tough as it needs to be. My emotions may not be as guarded as I hope. I may not be able to stoically separate attacks on my creation from attacks on my very identity. But no matter the response or the responder, I do want to make one thing clear:
I’m always willing to grow. I’m ready to hear it.