Any writer will understand the excitement and anxiety that goes along with finally letting someone read your work. I recently handed over my entire manuscript to my sister to be my first reader ever. She has listened to me talk about it for years now, so I figured I owed her the first read. Besides, she reads the fantasy-fiction genre, and can be pretty brutal when need-be.
From the point where I printed out the MS for the first time last month, topping off at more than 200k words, to the much slimmer version I emailed to her last week, it's been a journey.
In my previous post I babbled ignorantly on about how easy I found "killing my darlings," or editing, had been. And it was at first. But when I was still at 190-something thousand words after cutting 20- to 30 pages, I had to take a step back. I'm pretty realistic, and as much as I loved the 40 or so pages still lingering that were keeping me away from my goal of 160k words, I realize that I'm a newbie, a no-name writer, and a book of that length would be daunting coming from an untested author.
Despite knowing this, I tried going through the MS first and cutting down sentences, paragraphs and a page here or there in hopes that it would drop my word count down and bring me to a more reasonable length. I mean I want people to read it. But I moaned, I procrastinated, I debated and shook my head. It was too painful. I couldn't do it. But then I did. I clicked command-x and deposited the first 50 or so into another document, saved it, and said adieu—for now. A prequel could always rise from those ashes.
Instantly, I felt a sense of freedom, a weight lifted from my spirit and I turned to my book with new eyes and a better sense of length, pace and readability. And I've been happier ever since. But it certainly wasn't easy, I say to my previous naive self. I even got the word count under 150k. I mean it's fantasy, after all, so it's got a little heft.
This all brings me to handing it over for the first time to be read. I'm certain my sister wants to ring my neck, because I keep finding reasons to talk to her to find out what she thinks. But it's an amazing feeling to have written a book and have even just one reader, who so far, likes it.