I’ve been a part of Alex J. Cavanaugh’s IWSG since its inception. Sometimes I’ve written upbeat posts while others have shown my need for support. But even at my neediest, I was never as insecure as I am right now. The reason? My ARCs have been released, the advanced reader copies my publisher provides for critics and reviewers.
Now, all things considered—my advanced age most especially—I’m usually a pretty confident person, though with writing a little less so. I do love my story and feel pretty good about it, but ARCs released for consumption by those who might very well crucify me? Yikes! I am nearly paralyzed with apprehension.
ARCs aren’t like what we writers experience with critique partners or beta readers. Those relationships are typically well-cultivated and bear a certain amount of built-in respect and admiration. Yeah, sure, I’ve given my ARCs to a couple of friends who are published authors. I respect both their work and their following. Why wouldn’t I tap that? Frankly I’d be crazy not to. But I think I might even fear their reaction more than those strangers who are reading, because I treasure their respect as much, if not more than, their experience and influence. What if they hate it? Or maybe just don’t understand it? Or—gasp—are bored to tears? Holy crap!
And then there are those strangers who may (or may not) be poring over my darlings. I can’t even be sure they will review my work. I mean, who am I? A nobody. A debut author. An unknown. Why would they agree to review my book? So while they have a copy of my ARC, it might just end up unopened in their circular file.
Still, there will be those strangers who do indeed read it. They don’t know me. They don’t know of my struggle, of my personal experiences that led and contributed to this book. It’s just a fantasy for them. One they can criticize and condemn for being poorly written or imagined, for being underdeveloped, flat or worse—purple! I’ve worked hard on my craft over the last two years, but I’m still relatively inexperienced, and this is my first ever book.
So who am I kidding? Why did I ever think I could do this? Why am I putting myself out there to be criticized and beaten down and snickered at? Why?
Because in the end, I love my story. I believe in my characters. I’ve slaved and cried and rejoiced at every momentous mile marker, every roadblock, every failure and accomplishment. This is the next phase. Yeah, I’m scared to death, but I know and understand that this is a subjective business and not everyone will like my book. True, it might sting, and I might cry, but I also accept that as part of the journey. I am one step closer to publication, however insecure I might be.