The manuscript for Why Do I Feel This Way? was finally finished. It was time for a test-drive.
I sent it to three people, each carefully chosen for having a different perspective. I waited nervously for their reactions.
One “loved it”; he wants to make a movie of it. Another said she found a lot in it for herself, and “Wow,” she didn’t know it was so “big” in its scope. The third really liked my stories, and the strong, clear sound of my voice. I asked for criticism and got some very thoughtful responses. As I returned to my writing table to re-write some sections, add subheadings and re-read and edit some more, I found a dilemma: How much should I follow the advice of my readers?
I’m certain it’s a quandary for every new author. Barely confident that you have produced the best book you are capable of, you wonder how far to go. How do you know when to stop trying to meet every reader’s preferences? When do you know it’s time to call it your book, for better or worse, and go with your own decisions? It seems every part of this process has its challenges, its unique opportunity to teach me something about myself.
When I re-framed the question—Should I trust myself?—I easily found my answer. It was my old, familiar answer, the one I keep finding, and re-learning.
Life doesn’t come with a blueprint for every situation. In the end, it always comes back to me, standing pretty much alone with my own truths.