Welcome back Handsome Hansel from the Dance of Romance!  Today it’s all about letting go – letting your novel into the hands of others who may not love it as much as you do!
There are times when writing comes easy for me. There are times when it’s hard as hell. I’m not talking about the times when we run our characters into a situation then struggle to get them out of it, I’m talking of the times when it’s just…not…there.
I find the more I write, the more I am protective of my writing. Perhaps because it becomes more personal as the process plays out. I get to the point where I’m afraid to let it out for others to read. We’ve all equated writing our stories to raising kids. That falls flat when our real kids turn 18 and we can’t wait for them to get out of the house. For me at least, it’s hard to let those stories out there to share with others.
Yet…I’m a writer and that is exactly what I’m supposed to do. Otherwise I’m just journaling in an extraordinary way.
So how do we let go? When do we know it’s time? Do we slowly let the slack out of the leash and let a close circle of friends read what we’ve written; then, based on their feedback decide if a larger group should read it?
Most of us don’t have editors, line-editors, publishers, agents, etc. to tell us if we are getting it right or getting it very very wrong. Appreciation of what we’ve written is subjective, yet it’s hard to take when someone doesn’t like it. (Much less love it.)
I don’t know about you but I feel that when I let my inner circle read things I’ve written they are predisposed to tell me they like it. There has been some criticisms of course but they come with a certain amount of coddling. While I take their suggestions to heart it certainly takes the wind out of my sails knowing I didn’t get it right the first time.
We’re not perfect but we want to be perfect writers. We’ve read books on writing, attended seminars, googled and googled again, all in the hopes of finding the secret to being a great writer. A writer people will flock to when our new book comes out. Admit it, we’ve all had the dream. And I’m not ashamed to admit I still carry my dream around with my iPad and keyboard everyday.
Sometimes it’s the dream that keeps us from letting our writing free. It’s the constant back-of-the-mind what-ifs that freezes us. What-if it’s really no good? What-if I get turned down by this publisher? What-if it finally goes to print then nose-dives in sales? What-if yourself to death and your writing dies too.
There is a lot of work that goes into writing. A lot. Time spent away from family, loved-ones. Moments of self-doubt and hyper-awareness. It’s an emotional process. It can be draining. Yet we love to do it. Those of us who feel we were born to write…write. But we have to turn it over to others at some point. We have to hope it stands on its own two feet and eventually sprints to our dream’s finish line. So how do we cut the cord? (Oh Lord, I went there.)
The first step is to pick and choose a small group of people you can trust to give you what you need in the way of critique. You’ll want to turn to family but you need someone a little further removed. Pick a few friends or even co-workers who can read what you’ve written and give you honest feedback.
You need to learn to not take this feedback personally. It’s always hard. But it’s for the betterment of our stories. Make it clear to those you choose that you won’t be hurt by their suggestions. Even throw in that you will personally “Thank” them in your book when it comes out. We can’t please everyone but we need to face our flaws as writers. You’ll find they’ll give you what you need to polish and hone your story.
Once that is done, step up to critique groups. You can find them through a google search or ask your local libraries about them. If your friends were chihuahuas, this is a pack of pit-bulls so be forewarned. Their job is to tear your work apart. It’s a necessary evil however. You’ll learn a lot about your writing from these critique groups. It may be the equivalent of watching a bunch of strangers beat your child in front of you but you have to realize they’re doing it for the child’s own good. (Never beat an actual child or I’ll hunt you down myself. HH)
Once you get past the critique groups and you’ve refined your story to the best of your abilities, it’s time to sell it. Let it go. Free it. Find a publisher or, if you’re pretty savvy on the internet, self-publish.
If you find that turning it over to a publisher is a better fit for you, understand that the gauntlet you just ran will have to be run again. You have your standards, they have theirs. And rightfully so. After-all, it’s their brand backing yours.
Either way you choose to go, it’s important to get your writing out there. Share it. Bask in what you’ve accomplished and feel proud of it. Not everyone will get it but if you win the lion’s share of potential fans out there it’s a win in your column. Pat yourself on the back and get to doing it all over again!
RU Writers – do you bravely send your manuscript off to beta readers and critique groups? Or do you huddle with it at home, keeping it safe and sound?
Join us on Monday for editor Heather Webb!
Bio: Like most of us, I’ve been around the block a time or two (or three) in the relationship world. I like to think of myself as having a pretty thick skin, however, that skin doesn’t surround the heart.
I’ve been in love; I’ve been in lust. I’ve been hurt and got up to do it all again, each time having learned more of myself as well as “wants” and “don’t wants” for my next relationship. Amazingly enough, I never gave up on that one true love wrapped in Romance. You can visit me here, at http://thedanceofromanceonline.com 
- Weekly Lecture Schedule: May 27-31, 2013 
- The Dos and Don’ts of Critiquing with Anna Sugden 
- Writing When You’re Under The Gun with Handsome Hansel 
- Ever Wonder How Writing a Manuscript is Like Raising a Puppy? by Debbie Burns 
- Handsome Hansel – To be Free or Not to Be Free…That is the Question