As I’m nearing the end of my draft, which will be the first one to be read by my team of readers, scads of personal things are coming up for me. Much of it is due to anxiety I’m sure- the fear of having this be a real object that I am offering up for critique is an understandably nerve-wracking experience.
The greater issue at stake, though, is confronting some interesting demons that are coming out through my characters. Naturally, all my characters have parts of me: Renee talks like me, Blythe thinks like me (on grumpy days), Archer thinks like me (on generous days), Jenna is my maternal side, Corwin is my burnout side, and so on. Lexie, as my protagonist, is very similar to my college-aged self and her flaws are getting me the most twisted up.
There’s something tough about sorting through the kind of person I was at 18. It’s not that I don’t like that version of myself. But, in writing and trying to arrive at some truth of the character, I do have t0 face a lot of my demons. One of my biggest hang-ups to this day is being naive or stupid. I realize the value of a beginner’s mind, so these days I try to cut myself some slack, but looking back at myself confronting a lot of new ideas and people as I did in college is an exercise in forehead-slapping humiliation. At the beginning of the novel-writing process, I was constantly fighting with Lexie to make her smarter, wittier, braver, but it wasn’t working. She wasn’t realistic and not even that likable. I know now that what I have to do is give her over to my fears and see how she does.
So far, it’s been working. She starts the book very much naive but with a good mind. Throughout the story we get to witness her growing and edging towards world-weariness. While it did make me have to remember some of my more idiotic moments, it makes her a much more compelling character and makes the book better. In the process, I’ve forgiven my past self for the minor transgressions of youth.
As this edit is coming to a close, I get closer to giving this book to people whose opinions I very much value. Because this book is so important to me, I’m struggling with the feeling that I’m not just offering the book up for critique, I’m offering MYSELF. I chose my readers because I trust them with my fragile ego. I hope they can be forgiving with Lexie as I have been with myself.