I've been writing this novel now for over 4 years. Although to be honest, I've really only been serious about it for the last 6 months. I've always enjoyed writing, partly because I was always surrounded by literature as a child. You see, both of my parents are writers, journalists, by trade. My mom began her career in journalism at The Detroit Free Press as a copy girl, moved to The Macomb Daily as a reporter (where she met my dad) and then moved out of journalism and into public relations. My dad worked at the Macomb Daily as a reporter. He still works there today, but now as an editor.
I often wonder what the the ability to write well should be attributed to. Is early exposure to books, a solid education or just something that you're born with? Throughout my education, I was always told I was a "good" writer. I"ll be honest, school was pretty easy for me. I never got great grades, but I also never really tried. I earned A's and B's in English class without much thought. In high school I was placed into advanced placement English. I enjoyed the class, but I did have to think a little bit. I passed the AP exam and received college credit for the course. In college I bounced around a bit, but ended up back at my love...writing. I earned a BA in English from Michigan State University.
There have been plenty of times in my lifetime that I have been told that I am good at writing, so why is it that I am such a wuss about sharing it? I can sit here and write out my life's story for anyone on the web to read no problem, but the second you want to read part of the book I've been writing I freak out! If I ever want to make it at this author gig, I'm going to have to get over this reader related stage fright.
I guess it all boils down to this. I have put my heart and soul into this book. I have delved into emotional places that I thought were lost to me. The characters I have created are bit and pieces of me and everyone I've ever met. Basically it's the sum total of my existence. If I put it out there and it's criticised, then I feel personal criticised.
On the other hand, when someone likes my work I am elated, blown away. I still can't believe that people actually like what I've put on paper. Last night, at the writing group I attend, my stomach was is in knots. Now, no one in this group is unkind. They always give constructive criticism without telling you, "wow, that sucks," but I am always terrified when I share anyway. Go figure. I brought the part of my novel where the reader sees Lizabeth hunt for the first time. The first step is for someone else in the group to read your piece out loud. (Ah, terrifying) Then the group comments on it and then you can ask any questions you might have for them. The group is a diverse group age wise, so I'm always worried how a young adult vampire novel will go over. Last night (and every other night), it went over well. They told me that my writing was tremendous. "This isn't what I read. I don't like vampire books, but your is writing is tremendous." What a compliment.
Maybe one day all of this will sink in and I won't be so scared to share my work. For now, it still seems a bit safer to share with people that I don't know well. Hopefully I can let someone closer to me read it soon. It's an uncomfortable thought though just because this whole process has been so personal. I think I should just shoot straight to New York Times best seller, then I won't know who's reading what. :)