About six months after I asked for any takers, I finally sent out the first rough draft of the first chapter of my book to people who volunteered to read it.
I should have been more nervous about it -- and believe me, I was nervous -- but I kind of impulse sent it out without wringing my hands over it. It had been 95% written for at least three months, and having it sit in an Evernote notebook wasn't really getting me very far.
So I made a mass email and sent it out.
It took a couple of days to get responses back. That was the maddening, gut-churning part for me, to hear what people from all walks of life and career paths thought about it. It felt like the ultimate act of vulnerability for me, to not only talk openly in excruciating detail about this part of my life for the first time pretty much ever, but to wait for judgement of not only the story, but the way I tell it.
I'm such a delicate little flower underneath all this faux-hardness. Truly.
I realized, as reactions slowly trickled in, that I am so lucky to be surrounded by such intelligent, kind, thoughtful people. That the people I have met in my life both through this blog and the greater internet at large and you know, in real life, are totally awesome and amazing and I'm so lucky to have these communities to turn to and participate in.
Because not a single person had anything bad to say about it. In fact, most of it was so amazingly positive that I almost didn't know how to react.
Sure, there was constructive criticism, but that's exactly the point of having other eyes look at your work, to catch the flaws and inconsistencies you can't see because it's your heart poured out on that page and it's really hard to see past that, through a less personal lens.
For the most part, though, everyone had really honestly nice things to say about it, and that felt awesome. I struggle a great deal with finding the point of telling this story, what I want readers to walk away with, the point beyond me just saying this series of events happened and we survived and it's possible -- what looks like the end doesn't have to be, not really.
To hear people say they without a doubt wanted to read more and that this story is important and worth telling because it just is ... well, that soothed my soul, a little. Because yes, I know I should be super resolute about this in my soul, and for the most part I am, but a little outside validation goes a long way with me.
At least I'm self-aware, right?
Of course, life has been so busy that I haven't even begun on the next chapter, though I have been sort of organizing it in my head. I have a fuzzy vision of where I want this all to go, and a couple of ideas on how it'll wrap itself up.
Not to mention, I finally figured out a working title.
And that, for the first time since I really thought about doing this, actually feels like something.