I can’t remember who said it, or even the exact wording, but the point was something like, “A book isn’t a book until someone else reads it.” Or a story isn’t a story until…you get the picture.
I have had this story as a work in progress for a year now. No one read the first two drafts, so even though it was down on paper, it was still sort of living just in my head. I eventually showed the story to eight beta readers looking for feedback, etc. One of them asked me if I was nervous/freaked out about putting the story out there to be judged.
At the time, I really wasn’t. This wasn’t from any sort of confidence in my writing ability. It was still a work in progress, and at that point I was looking for ways to improve it. I was actively seeking critiques (and maybe a little praise). They came back with lists of typos, corrections, and varying opinions on the strengths and weaknesses, and that was exactly what I was looking for.
And quite frankly, I wanted someone besides me to read it. Like the above quote says, it wasn’t a real story yet. Other people need to read your words, interpret them with their own unique experiences, and maybe come away with something you never imagined. Each of the beta readers seemed to key in on something different, and it made me see the story in a whole new light.
Now the story is out there as a finished work. More eyes are on it, which is outstanding, but it is a little different this time. Not only have they paid money to read my words, but unlike the first eight, this audience is (rightly) expecting a polished work. So, I am a little more anxious this go round.
That is to be expected, of course. Whenever you produce something for public consumption, you are putting yourself out there, taking a little risk. You are bound to be a little anxious, and nervous about feedback. Everything I have read says to not take reviews or comments (good or bad) too seriously. Especially with the anonymity of the internet, things could get ugly.
I won’t pretend I am not going to read the reviews, because I will. I have an ego just like everyone else, so it will rise with the good ones, and take some hits with the bad ones. But I am excited and curious because this is what I asked for by putting it out there – more eyes, more interpretations, and for the story to become a story.
Now it’s real.
To write something, you have to risk making a fool of yourself.
~ Anne Rice