It is now 12:01 am PST. April 24, 2012; a day I have looked forward to for a very long time. The counter I've kept my eye on for so long has zeroed out to "Now Available" and my first child of paper has been set out in the world.
In case you don't get what I'm talking about I'll scream it out loud:
BREAKING BEAUTIFUL, MY DEBUT NOVEL, RELEASES TODAY!!!
(Friends on the East Coast did you hear that???)
Do you have any idea how cool that is? Do you have any idea how much that FREAKS. ME. OUT. My first child of paper is available to anyone who is willing to pay money for it, or who checks it out from the library, or who borrows it from a friend, or a relative or some stranger on the street. My hard-fought, long-poured-over words, and they don't even need my permission to read it. YIKES!
Like any other mom/author, I'm worried about how my child will be accepted by the big, bad, outside world. Yes, the ARCs have been out for months, it has been available on NetGalley, and I have already seen both positive and negative reviews, but until now I felt like me and/or my publisher had some control over who got to see my baby.
And now we don't.
Total strangers will be reading it, and that scares me, but here's the REALLY scary part, people I know will read it to. In fact, I'm having a launch party tonight, and all these wonderful, supportive friends who have listened to me talk about my book and who have followed me on my journey to this point will be able to own some of my words, actually own A LOT of my words, and maybe even a little piece of me.
And what if they don't like it?
There are just about hundred million unknowns in this business of this (I know, I stayed up counting them all last night). One of them is that everyone's taste, experience, and opinions are different. Thank God for that, but that also means someone could love me and hate my story, and that has to be okay.
I'd probably prefer that they don't tell me how much they hated it AND I'd probably prefer that they don't tell me what I should have done differently, (at least not right up front) and I'd probably prefer that they don't mention such and such typo/mistake/continuity error on page such and such, but I have to be okay with that too. Because in the end, it's just a story. (And yes it was painful for me to write that last sentence. AND yes my brain is screaming "No, it's not just a story it's MY STORY.)
I think everyone gets that this is hard for me, but at some point I know I'll have to let my child of paper go. It was out of my hands months ago, I wrote and re-wrote, plotted and revised, and re-read it so many times that I almost have it memorized so yes, it's still with me. Just today, driving home from the store I thought of something I should have done differently. I had one of those slap myself in the forehead, "why didn't I think of that earlier?" moments. Since a number of copies have already been printed and shipped I don't think my publisher would be happy with me if I asked them to change/add that thing I thought of today.
I have to let it go.
(Okay, but I'm thinking that maybe I can have a "deleted scenes" or a "what-if" section on my website and then I can add that piece that came to me today. I can, right? Right? I know, I know, let it go.)
In the book "THE ARTIST'S WAY by Julia Cameron, she says something like, "A book is never finished, it just ends in an interesting place." I know that's true. I also know that a book never really starts from the beginning, it just picks up in an interesting place.
I think life is a lot like that.
I can remember the day that I sat down and began BREAKING BEAUTIFUL with just the thread of an idea, but it didn't really start then, any more than it's starting now with an official launch date. The ideas, experiences, and stories that I used to build my story have been around for a long time (probably even longer than I have). The same goes for anything else I write. As I think about today, I realize that it is neither an ending or a beginning it's just an interesting place to be.
And as scary as that is, I think I like it.