Writing a book is hard… But you probably knew that already, right?
Writing a book is also a deeply personal thing. Delilah Dawson says (in the oh-so-hilarious 25 Steps to Becoming a Traditionally Published Author) that sending your book out to potential publishers is like saying to them, “HERE IS THE BEST WAY TO BREAK MY HEART FOREVER.” She is totally right. And it feels kind of the same way no matter who you give your work to.
Sure, there’s the excitement that comes from having one of your friends/classmates read something you wrote, but there’s also that gnawing in the pit of your stomach. What will they say? Will they like it? Will they hate it? Will they tell me I should give up writing completely? I probably should. My work sucks.
You should know that the inner monologue will never go away completely, but that inner voice is wrong. There will probably be things you need to fix- sometimes really big things- but your work matters, and anyone who is the kind of critique partner you want, will never let you forget that. If you send your work out to someone and they don’t have anything nice to say, or if they ever say anything that puts you down as a person or as a writer, then they don’t belong in your super exclusive circle of beta readers.
Find people you trust, who make that leap of sending out your work a little easier.
I’ve got to take a moment to give a shout out to my writing group: Holly, Kyra, Cassie and Emma. I met them in a children’s book publishing seminar in college, and they are AMAZING. They make me feel good as a writer, and they also tell me when there are big things I need to fix, or when I just need to move the plot a little faster, or when my characters do something that just doesn’t make sense.
Criticism is hard, but it is also awesome. Without my writing group, my story would have no chance of success. No chance. Because alone, I can write a decent novel, something worth sending to my grandma. But with others, I can create something worth selling in a bookstore. Critique partners see the things that you are just too close to the story to see. They are there to bounce ideas off of when you are stuck, and make you feel awesome when you’re going through that phase everyone goes through where you think MY BOOK SUCKS NO ONE WILL EVER WANT TO READ THIS ISHOULDJUSTKILLITWITHFIRE.
It doesn’t, someone will, and you definitely shouldn’t. Take the leap. Send your work to someone. It will be worth it; I promise.