by Katherine Reay
You’re suffering from a double dose of me. When I signed up to be today’s blogger, I didn’t know I’d be yesterday’s interview. So if you want to know more about me, I think I am lurking in the archives from yesterday…
But today, we chat writing and letting go. In fact, as of about an hour ago, I sent my edits for Lizzy and Jane off to my editor. So I am practicing this… even if I’d like to grab L&J back for a just a couple more changes.
Bottom line – it’s hard to put your work out there and I don’t think that changes whether it’s your first or your fifth. I held Dear Mr. Knightley so tightly that no had even read it before a publisher then my agent. But Lizzy and Jane was put out there earlier. I forced myself to let it go. My sister has read it, my grandmother, a couple good friends, my husband, my agent…
Yes, that is still only a handful, but it’s an important handful – for each person made substantive comments, suggestions and criticisms. And with each chat and each set of opinions, Lizzy and Jane stepped further from me and being my personal “precious.” (Thank you, Tolkien.) The story begins to stand alone, in and of itself. I hope that makes some sense – with appropriate hand motions, it’s very clear.
So I think a piece of advice I would give and one I’m actively pursuing is to “get out there” – join writing groups, communities, find Beta readers, find Alpha readers (do they exist?), get friends to read snippets, seek opinions and ask for critiques. The work is yours and not every comment will be helpful – but I do believe that every interaction helps refine your writing and your journey as a writer. Because that is part of the journey as well, learning what input to accept and how to recognize some suggestions as not right for your story, your mission and your calling.
Prior to Dear Mr. Knightley’s publication I erroneously believed that writing was a solitary activity. And while there is plenty of time banging on the keyboard alone, writing is also an incredibly communal pursuit. I’m staggered and blessed by the network, community and support I’ve found through ACFW, new writer friends, blogger friends, agent friends, editors and book lovers in general.
So, if you plan on pursuing writing more or in a different way in 2014, I would recommend letting go of your work a bit and letting others join your process. And let me know if it works, if you disagree, or what you think about this advice in general…. I’d love to hear from you.
Katherine Reay’s first novel, Dear Mr. Knightley, released last November. Her next, Lizzy and Jane, will come out in October and she is now searching for the next “great” idea. After a few years working in marketing and a few moves, including stops in England and Ireland, Katherine and her family reside in Seattle, WA, where she spends her days reading novels, running, writing, cooking and trying to clean the house. You can find her at www.katherinereay.com, on Twitter @katherine_reay or on Facebook at /Katherinereaybooks.