Sitting in my favorite Starbucks this morning, sipping my usual coffee – half caf drip, I finished the first round of edits on my novel.
I thought I’d have to fit in a few more editing sessions, but I whipped through the last pages and suddenly I was at the end and shutting the heavy binder I’ve been lugging everywhere with me for the last two months. I’ve lived in fear of losing it, of forgetting it somewhere. I hated the thought of having to start all those edits again, of losing those notes.
And suddenly, that binder which had been priceless moments before, was instantly worthless.
And all of a sudden, the excuse I’d been giving to people for months was moot.
I no longer had edits to enter. I could send out the book to the first round of readers.
I sat there, coffee seekers milling around me, listening to a Jazz album playing softly from speakers cunningly hidden around the room. I watched a little boy drink his milk with intense concentration. And I ignored the massive file on my computer.
The book that was now ready to be shared.
I had this flashback to that last moment before I had to let my children be born. That last instant when they were all mine and no one else knew them. I hated having to share either with the world. Hated having to hear people’s judgment of them.
But with C and Little L I had no choice. It was let them be born or let them die and that was definitely not an option. Technically I could have left the book on my hard drive and kept it to myself. It didn’t have a placenta that would eventually disintegrate, depriving it of nourishment.
I sat there a little longer. Spotted the man who comes in at 11 every day, fresh Sudoku puzzle printed out, paper in the other. He ordered his regular cup of coffee and sat down, nodding and smiling at me on his way to his favorite corner table. I smiled and nodded back.
Then I opened an email window and typed in two addresses. I added a quick note and attached the file. And I sent it off before I could change my mind.
I didn’t carry this book in my womb for nine months, I carried it in my head and in my heart for two years. I could have let it sit in my computer forever, it would never have withered, never have died. But it would also never have grown. And considering the energy and emotion that I’ve poured into it, that would have been a shame.
Tonight I watched M sit curled up in an armchair, my big black binder on his lap, as he read the first pages of the novel. I studied his face – was that a smile? a frown? I looked up at every twitch, or shift. He won’t believe me, but I bit my tongue time and time again, resisting the urge to keep asking, “Is it good? Do you like it?” After a while the intensity of my observation must have gotten to him because he got up and went to read in the kitchen.
Which is where later I finally broke down and begged for feedback.
“It’s…. it’s good.” He answered, looking up from the page he was reading, hesitating to say more. I waited. And then he rushed on. Comments, critiques, advice. Useful stuff, some I suspected, some that came as a bit of a surprise.
I had expected to feel some resentment, like I did the first time others were able to hold and care for my babies, but instead I felt nothing but elation as I jumped into the conversation about how I could make my book better.
I thought that writing a great passage was the ultimate high. I had no clue that it is nothing compared to the thrill of sharing that passage with someone and seeing the passion it has created in their eyes.