October 30, 2015

Why Letting Others Read Your Manuscript Is Like Sending A Child To Kindergarten

why letting others read your manuscript is like sending a child to kindergarten #write31days

I will never forget the day I first dropped Liam off for Kindergarten. He's a rough and tumble boy but contains a secret heart-space that's vaster than the ocean. Perhaps it's a middle child thing but he is much more affectionate than his brother and sister combined. He's got this ying and yang balance of sweetness and attitude. No one pushes me like he does. But no one loves me like he does either.

Kindergarten dawned and he was all boundless excitement and curiosity. Our morning was happy. Bouncy. Light. We arrived in the schoolyard and everything was sunshine. He met other children. Compared backpacks. Showed off the flashing lights in the soles of his shoes.

But then the bell rang and he didn't want to let go of our farewell hug. I walked him to the teacher, his arms circling me and his face scrunched with worry.

The teacher smiled. "You'll be fine, dear," she said, helping to unwrap him from my waist and holding him back as I untangled myself. "You'll be fine."


One word to rip your heart. The devastation that poured from him was enough to nearly cripple me. His face was distorted into an ugly cry of desperation, his mouth wide with horror and tears splashing down his face as evidence of his abandonment.

"I love you," I said.

"He'll be fine," the teacher assured me.


And I left the schoolyard, that terrible pained face ingrained upon my heart to reappear all day as I waited the long hours to rescue him from my desertion. 

It's hard to let go - to trust your child into the care of another no matter their skill or training. 

Because no one can mother like I can. No one can love him more perfectly than me.

A manuscript is a baby conceived in the womb of your mind and brought to full gestation through laborious exertion. It is crafted by your love. It is dressed in new clothes and fancy, flashing sneakers. It is your heart walking around outside your body and to trust it to the care of another is to tug the gossamer threads of your soul. 

The Church In The Wildwood is ready for beta readers. It's prepped to be poked and prodded and scribbled on and deconstructed to be reconstructed and I'm terrified that it's not the beautiful child I think I've been raising over the last year.

BUT, just as I lack the skills required to effectively teach my own children things like reading, writing and arithmatic - so too do I lack the skills required to effectively read my own work and find it's faults. I'm too close to it. I'm a parent who thinks my child is the prettiest child in the schoolyard. I don't necessarily see the wild bedhead and the stains of last night's spaghetti clinging to an unwashed chin.

And so I'll pass my pretty manuscript off and I'll whisper, "I love you," as it reaches back for me and I'll pretend I don't see those shiny tears as I feel the gaping hole of terror ripped open in my chest at the thought of my sweet baby being torn apart by bullies...

Of course, at the end of it all I'll realize that everything is okay - that it is, in fact, BETTER. It's good to let others teach. It's good to be taught. The Church In The Wildwood will be better because I let it go just as Liam is better because I walked away and let him experience school on his own.

It's about making something stronger. It's about trust. It's about faith in the process. It's about pouring out your heart and then making sure it's the best version of itself it can be.

It's not easy but it is necessary.

Cheers to November 1 - the first day of school for my precious story.

{click the image above to see all the #write31days posts}
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