on the wonder of letting a story out into the world

As of last night, both my parents have read my book draft. I talked to them both yesterday about it; to my surprise, it’s my father who said he’d have to read it again to be critical and my mother who came right out and told me some things that made her go “what?”

I’ve gotten some really good feedback, not only from them but from one of my other readers (who is giving me feedback chapter by chapter as he reads; hi, Derek!) – but last night I got something more. For the first time since beginning the process of writing Gatekeeper, I got the chance to talk about my story in its entirety with someone else who knew it. Someone who knew a story that started in my head. I got to talk about character development, about pacing and – best ever – about the ending.

Maybe this is old hat for writers after they get a couple of books under their belts. But for me, it’s mind-blowing. I’ve talked with people about books mutually read or movies mutually seen; I’ve criticized and praised those shared media experiences, but I’ve never ever in my life experienced anything like this.

I made up a story. Cut it from whole cloth. And now it’s in other people’s heads.

How is this not the most amazing thing ever?

The story isn’t just hiding out in my mind anymore, or scratched out on secret pages. It’s out there. I didn’t get this sense when people were just reading chapter samples, but for some reason, now that a couple of people know how the story ends, it feels infinitely more real.

It was especially gratifying to talk with my mother about the story, not only because she loved it (and she says that’s not just because she’s my mom), but because she’s known me longer than anyone, and she was able to pick out all the things in it that have influenced me through my whole life. And she should know; she was there.

Other than my parents and Derek, I haven’t heard back from my readers yet. It’s nerve-wracking, a little, but also heartening, because I trust that they’re really taking their time with it, digesting the story and taking the time to put together thoughtful, useful feedback.

Now I have to read up on how to query agents. Fun times!

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