An important, pour-your-heart-and-soul-into-it book.
One it has taken four years to wrestle and nurture into something I am hugely proud of.
My first YA for over five years.
A story I have hated and cried tears of frustration over, because I thought I would never get it right.
THAT kind of book.
Naturally, my life during the last few weeks has morphed into some kind of authorly Bermuda Triangle as I bounce between terror, excitement and panic, with everything else sinking in the middle. You need to let go, I've told myself. You've done all you can, whatever happens next is out of your hands.
Anyway, during my frequent late-night worry sessions, I got to thinking about how we (creators) might protect ourselves from feeling this way. The obvious answer is that once our work reaches a certain level of perfection (and I use that term loosely because who has ever created something artistic that they considered perfect? Not me...) or completion, then we need to love it in spite of its faults and learn to let go. If you can manage to detach yourself from your work enough, then maybe you will see its future and performance objectively. The trouble is, of course, that writing (and other art) is often so personal, which makes it harder to let go. And there are often practical reasons for not being able to let go - you need the work to do well so that publishers will find you an attractive business proposition in future, perhaps so that you can continue to feed your children. I cannot let go of Instructions for a Second-hand Heart because I feel it is my very best writing; it's intrinsically linked into my own confidence. So if it does not sell, that will impact on my perception of myself, as well as disappointing a lot of other people. Then I realised that I don't want to not care about this book: it IS important and I can't let it go. All I can do is hope that I have done enough.
Unless any of you have some tried-and-tested routes for escaping (or entirely avoiding) the Bermuda Triangle of Fear? Do you manage to let your work go? Or are you worse than me?