But first, you guys (if you haven't already) should hop on over to YAHighway and check out their amazing and stupendous three day giveaway that is filled with so many types of awesome I might actually faint. My cyber fingers itch to get my hands on one of those prizes.
Now. On to the thing that was on my mind.
This post is kind of directed at writers but mostly at readers (which I'm pretty sure every writer is. right?!).
The reaction often received in response to a heartfelt confession that I'm a writer ranges from 'oh, that's so cool' to a breezy 'oh, how nice for you. Are you published yet?' Since I've been confessing to my writerlyness since I was, oh, eleven, I've gotten used to it. I'm used to the people who don't understand publishing and the people who are your own personal cheerleaders and so on. Sometimes it's heartening, sometimes it's hurtful, and sometimes it rolls off my skin like water off a seal's back.
But one thing that is constantly jarring and invasive is 'when can I read your book?'
Not because I don't know that you mean well. Not because I'm greedy and don't want to share. But because my work, my writing, is a sacred part of me. I pour my dreams and hopes and thoughts into my writing. All of my characters carry a little piece of me. Every single word of my book has been read a million times. Every scene has been played over and over and over again in my head. All of it is so special and close to me that when someone says 'oh, can you email me your book' all calm-like I want to wrap it up and steel and shove it into the deepest part of my heart.
You can't just ask a writer to hand over their most prized possession. That's like asking a woman to hand over her new born child before she's even gotten a chance to say hello.
When I was in the 9th grade, I used to write poetry. I poured all my emotions into it. Every misgiving I had about life and society and love and grief came out into the little notebooks I carried everywhere with me. I shared them with very few people and when I did it was a secret. So when a teacher discovered that I wrote poetry and asked to read it, I felt hugely violated. And after I said no and she kept asking, the feeling of violation grew and grew.
If one of your writer friends evades you request or gives you a flat out 'no' respect it. Respect their wish to keep this deeply personal and private thing just that, private. Because you're basically asking them to hand themselves over to you naked. You're asking them to strip down in front of you and give you their opinions and hopes and dreams in a 200 page manuscript.
And that's not fair.
There's enough stress in writing as is. And even more in writing for publication. Don't add to it by demanding to see the secret part of them when they're not ready to share with you.
THAT SECRET STUFF