I did something the other day that scared me more than anything I’ve ever done in my whole life, including, but not limited to, climbing Angel’s Landing at Zion National Park, riding/jumping/falling off horses, moving across the country without knowing a single person and killing various spiders along the way.
I emailed a copy of the novel I’ve been working on to four people with whom I would trust my life.
And I was so petrified after clicking send that I sat in stony silence for about two hours afterward, watching television shows that involved large explosions and death. It was calming.
Why was this so scary? I’m a writer! I don’t even get a good buzz off seeing my name in print any more. I no longer quake in my boots at the idea of sending something to the higher-ups for editing. I’m not shy in editorial meetings, and I know that some days my work really, really sucks.
But that doesn’t scare me.
However, when it comes to writing fiction, I’m terrified. I love reading and writing stories—totally made up stories—but the idea of having someone else read what I write is beyond my worst nightmares, even the ones where giant arachnids chase me.
So why did I send my novel to my Pi Readers? Because the things that scare me the most are the things most worth doing. Because if I don’t get feedback, it will never get better. Because the characters I wrote deserve someone other than me feeling their joy and pain. Because stories die if they aren’t shared.
Because I never want to look at a computer full of stories and realize that there’s a gem in there, but I didn’t let anyone else see it. Because I know that until that gem becomes reality, I’m going to write a whole lot of really, really bad fiction, but if I let that stop me, it’s always going to be really, really bad. If I share it, it has a shot, just a chance, of becoming something amazing.