Should I share my work now, or wait until it is finished?
This is the question I have been struggling with for a while now.
I am sure that this quandary of mine must affect most, if not all, of those who endeavour to create something. I know I am not the only one insecure enough to fear feedback on something so personal. Because, whether your creation is a painting, book, or song, it is the physical manifestation of the thoughts, feelings, sounds, and pictures that form inside your mind.
Ever since I began to write I have been torn. Between wanting someone to read my work, to tell me it is not as terrible as I sometimes think it is, and not wanting anyone to ever read it, in case it is, in fact, terrible.
Then of course comes the next debate. If I do share my work, do I share it with someone I know? Risk the judgement of someone I care about, and risk putting them in the awkward position of having to tell me not to bother writing any more. Or, do I share it with a stranger? But that, of course, comes with its own share of anxious thoughts.
I have had several offers from people I know. I’ve heard a dozen different variations of, “If you ever want someone to read your book, give it to me.”
To which, I just smile and respond with some vague comment. Because while the sentiment is very thoughtful, I knew that I was a long way off sending my work to just anyone.
Then I decided to go back and completely re-write everything I have done. And suddenly everything seemed to click. And finally, I decided to push past the worry, and get some feedback.
I was discussing feedback, and the disastrous “should I, shouldn’t I” loop, with a friend of mine one night. She is a fellow creator, who writes and sings her own songs, and understands the pain of anxiety. So I decided to send her my current draft. Which, considering I had re-written almost every word, was essentially a very first draft.
I am still waiting for her to give me back a copy with all of her notes and suggestions. But, the moment she told me that she was enjoying my work, and that it was not as terrible as I had suspected, I was set free.
Since then, I have increased my pool of beta readers to three. Another friend, with whom I have spent a lot of time discussing my book, and my mother. I chose all of these people for a few key reasons.
- None of them typically read fantasy, and one isn’t much of a reader at all.
- I was comfortable sharing my creation with them.
- I trusted them to be honest, but gentle with my delicate feelings. Yes, even my mother, she is one of the most brutally honest people I know.
Now, I have only finished the first few chapters of my re-writes. And I expect that I will add more beta readers as time goes on. I know that feedback is crucial for the writing process. And, I know there will be a dozen more re-writes, and a dozen more beta readings, before I am anywhere close to sharing this book with the world.
Though I haven’t actually gotten any real criticisms yet. All of my beta readers are still working on their feedback, to do the best they can before they send it back to me. But that is alright. Really, for now, all I needed was an indication that I am headed in the right direction.
And, if the comments of my friends and family are to be believed, I am.
“I’m finished reading. And I want moreeee.”
Mikaela Dreger, via Facebook
“The next part of this book can’t come soon enough Syv… I so wish I did not read that now haha! Thank you so much for showing me! I haven’t been able to get stuck into reading like that since I can’t even remember!”
Benjamin Jacobson, via Facebook
“Your book is absolutely amazing.”
Suewellyn Kelly, via text
(which preceded a two hour phone call discussing the chapters)