I am currently doing the writerly equivalent of watching through my fingers from behind the sofa. Over the last fortnight I’ve been editing a collection of linked short stories. I spent yesterday checking and correcting punctuation and overused words, and listening to the computer read the manuscript to me (I find it less embarrassing when the robot voice does it). And yesterday evening I emailed it out, with a question sheet, to the wonderful people who have agreed to beta-read for me.
Now my rational brain tells me that this is a good thing to do. I’ve asked people to read individual short stories for me before, and it’s been really useful. I trust the people who are reading for me, too. I know that I will get useful feedback from the process, and that it will improve the book.
So why am I a gibbering wreck? I guess it’s because, even though I’ve revised, cut, checked and double checked what I’ve written, a little voice in my head is whispering, ‘What if they all hate it?’
My much-loved other half got the manuscript yesterday, and started to read it IN FRONT OF ME. Then he told me off for watching him read! I mean, what did he expect? He said (I paraphrase), ‘You know that bit in On Writing where Stephen King’s wife is reading his new story and he keeps peeking? Well, stop it!’
I have to admit, I huffed a bit. For one thing, I’m no Stephen King. Plus the other half had said he wanted me to stay in the room while he read. ‘This is torture, you know,’ I grumbled, before retreating into my own book. I will not check social media, I told myself, and then my phone flashed. One of my betas had started reading it! Aargh! I thought, which isn’t an appropriate response when someone is doing you a big favour.
I fully expect to spend the next few days trying not to stalk my betas and freaking out that people are reading my work. I just hope this gets easier … in fact, I might have to start another project to take my mind off it!