On Releasing My Baby…

My three-year-old started preschool a few months ago. I think I can speak for most moms when I say that this was an incredibly bittersweet milestone. Pushing your baby out of the nest is one part exhilarating and two parts terrifying. Along with thoughts of It’s for the best, and She’ll be a brighter, better girl for it, comes frantic, mental begging. Please be sweet to my precious child! Treat her kindly, speak to her gently, teach her many new things!

She cried those first few days at drop off. God, did she cry. I nearly did too, but with my husband’s support, I kept taking her. The crying tapered off, morphing fairly suddenly into excitement and eager anticipation. And you know what? Preschool has become a wonderful experience, for both my daughter and me. She loves it, and is growing and changing in ways my husband and I couldn’t have facilitated on our own. And I have four extra uninterrupted hours of writing time each week. It really did turn out to be for the best.

I mention the above because as I sit here and type, a critiqued version of my manuscript (my *other* baby) sits in my inbox.

Unopened.

Because I’m a wimp.


I felt exactly the same way I felt when preschool was set to begin. Anxious. Scared. Dreadful. And, at the same time, a teensy bit excited.

I’m lucky enough to have had my manuscript critiqued by a multi-published mentor. She’s incredibly talented, wise about the industry, and isn’t afraid to tell it like it is. I’m sure she’s supplied me with tons lots feedback to consider. Which is why I’m filled with trepidation.

The perfectionist in me wants this baby to be flawless. I want it to be loved by all who read it. I want to hear, This is amazing! and Don’t change a thing! I don’t want to cut scenes and alter characters and expand on events. I want it to be deemed beautiful as is.

But, I’m not delusional. It’s so NOT perfect. It’s going to need to be revised. And then it will be read again, by my mentor, and then by my fabulous critique partners who will, undoubtedly, have more suggestions for changes both big and small.

I will mourn these changes—I know I will. The cut words. The (*gasp*) cut scenes. The big job of writing new scenes that fit seamlessly. Comments that say, This is awkward, and I don’t get it. But I will not wallow in the critique too long. I will get over myself and my solitary, perfectionist tendencies, and I will change what needs to be changed. Fix what needs to be fixed. Because as much as I want to, as hard as I try, I can’t make my manuscript perfect by myself. I need fresh eyes, honest comments, and different perspectives.


And I am so thankful I have the help and support I need.

Now, I’m off to open that email… more later!

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4 responses to “On Releasing My Baby…

  1. It is tough, but it gets easier. I always get a sinking feeling when I open a MS with comments… *what if they hated it*. But then I read through them and I think okay, I can see where she’s coming from with this and this. I find it’s easiest to change the non-emotional things first– the little things. Then I get in the mode and I can tackle things that feel more personal (though ultimately they’re not).

    I also try to remind myself, “wouldn’t you rather have a friend say this, than it come from an agent.” The answer is always yes, because you’re going to want the best possible version to go to an agent.

    Good luck!

    • For me, it seems to get harder! Great advice about doing the non-emotional stuff first though. And you’re right, I’d so much rather hear critiques from my trusted writing friends than from agents. Thanks, Katharine!

  2. I can’t wait to see what Mentor-type has to say about POPPIES! Eagerly awaiting my turn to see this masterpiece… 🙂