For me, the most terrifying part of the whole writing experience was when I started sharing what I’d written with others. I knew the only way to find out if my work was any good, and the only way I would be able to improve, was to get feedback. In practice, this represented a colossal leap out of my comfort zone.
You see, until I got to the stage when I was ready to share the first few chapters, I hadn’t told ANYONE (not even my husband – I was in New York for three months and he was in England) that I was writing a book. I was concerned about how people would react, worried they would think it was embarrassing and self-indulgent.
The first person I told was my husband, when he came to New York to visit. Even then, I was cringing as I handed him my laptop and quickly left the room. I couldn’t bear to see his facial expressions if he thought it was terrible.
Luckily, when I came back, he was still reading and was positive. I told him if he didn’t like it, or if it wasn’t his thing (it’s a bit girly), he didn’t have to read it all. He continued to read, saying he wanted to see what happened next.
When he finished, we had a conversation about my characters. I can’t begin to describe how wonderful this was: someone else talking about Anita, Marcus, and Alexander as though they were real, speculating about the plot. It was truly amazing.
This experience gave me a much needed confidence boost to share a little more widely, which meant I sent it to my little sister, Alice. Needless to say, Alice was keen, and she’s been my first reader and primary cheerleader ever since. She’s less good for constructive criticism (it’s got to be said), excelling at general moral support, enthusiasm, confidence boosting, and encouragement. But that’s what I really needed at this stage: confidence to carry on, to fight the impostor syndrome. Don’t get me wrong, criticism has an important place in the writing process, but that would come later.
My advice to any new writer would be: take the leap. Share your work, because that’s when the real magic begins.