When you work on a story for months — years, even — it can be difficult to let it go and allow the public to make their own decisions about it.
But you must.
You can't stand over the shoulders of those reading it and wait (im)patiently for their review. You can't respond to every misconception of plot with the real story behind why you made this character do that action (no really. Please don't respond).
You've done the work. You wrote in the early morning hours when the sun was coming up and while the moon stood watch above you. Those are your words people are reading. I get it.
Resist the fear.
There will be critics. We'll talk about them later.
Resist the fear.
When I taught poetry, I often encouraged my students to take what they would from what we read.
"Every poem is different," I told them. "You may think you don't like poetry because of what you've read before — what you know of rhyming stanzas and rhythm. But trust me. You never know when a line will knock you off your feet."
There were a few who would hold tight to their assumptions. Almost every time though, the collection of a few lines surprised them. Immediately, they found words resonating with their life. Before I knew it, they would be carrying around a poetry collection of this artist's work because "they just get me, you know?"
Yes. I do.
I doubt when Pablo Neruda wrote his poems, he thought of the hormonal high school students reading his work and applying it to their latest crush. I also doubt that when John Donne created his personas, he considered fifteen year old boys would giggle about a mosquito being used to coerce a woman into sex.
And as we write our books, we may not know the specifics of how they will be received.
There will be hopes. There will be visions of interviews with Oprah or invitations to TED or movie rights. But there is no way for us to know how our words will be received.
Do not give into the fear. When you're done writing, when you've placed the last edit in your manuscript and you've clicked the publish button on Amazon, breathe deep and let those words go.
Because now? They belong to the reader. And this is where the connections are made and your words come to life.
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