this is the first year that all of my kids have been in school full time (hence finally having the time to finish a manuscript). at the beginning of the school year, i could admit that, while i was really looking forward to it as an almost guilty pleasure; i was also rather riddled with worry. i think i may have had more trouble sleeping the night before than they did. i put on a brave smile that first day when i dropped them off and made sure not to coddle or linger too long, but then i spent the entire day at home with that funny feeling you get in your stomach when you’re really concerned about something. i worried that they would miss me, or that they would be picked on. i was completely distracted from any other activity i could have engaged in on my first day of “freedom” with thoughts about whether i had properly prepared them for life away from me. i questioned if i’d taught them well enough in manners, social cues, respect, and everything else a parent tends to doubt themselves about when they are away. when it was time to pick them up again, i arrived far earlier than necessary and wrung my hands as i waited for them to come out and tell me how horrible it had been. when they were finally released, i found myself shoving goodies at them, compensating for my guilt and their disaster of a day. of course, the disaster didn’t actually happen, but that didn’t matter at the time. what mattered was that it could have happened. so i needed to make up for it, whether it made sense or not.
luckily, as time has marched on, the days have gotten easier. though i still wrestle with the worry and am overly sensitive when they do have a hard time, i have seen that they really are ready for this experience, and even benefiting from it.
where am i going with all of this? believe it or not, it wasn’t to illuminate my home life for you. no, it was, rather, a really long winded segue into the part of the publishing and promotion process that i am preparing for now: book reviews. if i was going to capitalize, it would be there…to emphasize how ominous i find it. in fact, go back and re-read it, and imagine the scary sounding music with it: “duh duh dun…”.
you would think that after the the many peer review groups in college i suffered through, and the critiquing process for this book, that i would be rather used to having people read my work and give me feedback (the good, the bad, and the ugly). a book review would be no big deal, right? wrong!! i’m pretty sure i’m getting an ulcer. i’m suffering from heart palpitations here!
this manuscript is like my kids (see how that fit together now? clever, right? (just nod and smile. i’m having a nervous break down). it’s one thing to let my family watch my kids, but complete strangers? probably not. likewise, it’s okay for people i know and like and respect to read over my manuscript and give me constructive criticism. but it is quite another to hand it over to someone i’ve never met before, and likely never will. not only the lack of acquaintance, but the importance of their opinion makes this daunting. their opinion will be made public and affect the success of my book, my baby; my fledgling hopes to become a career author. i’ve read negative reviews on amazon before (i admit, some of them were quite entertaining), and they were really harsh! as a reader, i was able to laugh. as a writer, i cringe.
but like with my kids going off to school, i can see the big picture, i know it’s necessary and beneficial. i know that, ultimately, it will make my writing better. with any luck, it will also get easier with time. but today, and probably for many days after, the thought of letting my hopes and dreams go into the care of strange eyes and pens makes my hands shake and my stomach pitch. so i will say my prayers tonight that the reviewers i release missing to hear my plea: be gentle. it’s my first time.