Repeat after Me: Your Book is NOT Your Baby

WHAT’S PLAYING: Duffy “Warwick Avenue

A while ago, I resolved to put off having children until I was financially and emotionally stable. I’m well on my way to accomplishing the first task. As for the second…well, let’s just say that I’m not going to be on the cover of Sanity Fair anytime soon. In fact, I’m pretty sure that by the time I’ve worked through all the kinks and snarls in my mind, I’ll be so far past menopause that any eggs I have left will be hardboiled.

But while I’m more than happy to defer childbearing, lately when it comes to my writing, I’ve suddenly turned into some sort of crazy stage mom. Every word is precious, and any hint of criticism is a personal attack. This is a problem, especially now that I’m about to put my book into the hands of my beta readers.

The scenario will probably play out something like this:

WHAT THEY SAY: “I like the book, but I think this scene could use some tightening.”

WHAT I HEAR: “You’re ugly and stupid, and your mother dresses you funny. Oh, and your writing sucks.”

I guess this sort of reaction is natural. I’ve poured so much time and energy into this project that in some ways, it’s more “mine” than any child could be.

But, by investing so much of myself in this book, I’m not doing it, or my self-esteem, any favors. As a writer, I can’t afford to get so wrapped up in writing the book of my heart, that I lose sight of my true purpose: to tell a good story.

The truth is that this book is just a book. Yes, I’ve cried, sweated, and cursed over it into the wee hours of the night, but it’s still a creation, not an extension of my self-worth.

Still, if you happen to walk by and see me weeping hysterically while clutching papers to my chest and howling at an uncaring sky, just… look away.

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4 comments on “Repeat after Me: Your Book is NOT Your Baby

  1. And this is exactly why I resist all pressure to write a book.

  2. Jill Archer says:

    Receiving criticism (even if it’s constructive) can be doubly hard with fiction because, unlike professional and academic writing, you put some of yourself into it. That’s the only way to make it emotional and unique. So your feelings are natural. At least you’re brave enough to give your work to others for feedback. Be proud of what you’ve accomplished! Some of the best advice I received was: Consider everything, but only worry about negative comments if you hear the same comment more than once. If only one person has a gripe, feel free to ignore it.

    • Thanks for the advice! Right now, I’m my own toughest critic. Every time I find a typo or grammatical error or plot hole, I just want to tear my hair out. Sometimes, I think I’ll never finish editing.

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