Late again. Though not as late as last time.
Tonight I took my Munchkin with me to give a review session for a class I teach. She totally charmed them. And gave most of them hugs as they left. One of the guys asked me if she goes up to random people and hugs them. The answer is yes and no. She will if we’re right there and she thinks they look like they need a hug. Which is, at once both alarming and endearing. She’s a lovely, sweet soul, and she hates to see anyone unhappy. On the other hand, the world can be a hard place, and I want to protect her from that. It’s what I tell my classes all the time – it’s a continuum. On the one end I have the ability to keep my daughter secure. On the other end is her ability to be independent. Every bit of independence she gains costs me some bit of ability to keep her safe. But ever bit of safety I enforce costs her some bit of independence.
In the same way, I think authors can be really protective of their stories. And their characters. We don’t want bad things to happen to them, we want to keep them safe. But if bad things don’t happen to them, how can the reader see their character arc? How will the plot move forward. So, we, as writers, have to make a trade off. The safety of the characters in favor of moving the story forward.
Similarly, once the story is done, you face a similar dilemma. Do you send your baby out into the world, where it is sure to attract some slings and arrows? Or do you harbor it, safe and warm, in the desk drawer (or thumb drive)? Again, a trade off.
I’m not telling you that you have to send your stuff out right now. Maybe you aren’t ready (regardless of whether the story is). But I do think that you need to understand the trade off you are making. Yes, your baby is safe, but it will never shine. Yes, it’s safe, but no one will ever know it’s wonder. Consider taking a chance. Sure it’s a risk – but, like my daughter, you may just find that you brightened someone’s day.