I'm about to head off to visit a local book club who read The Threadbare Heart. I love doing these events, and am always amazed at the care with which people read their books. I once had a reader confront me with a copy of my book filled with Post-It notes. She wanted to go through each note to tell me where she had found grammatical errors, mistakes in continuity and sentences that just didn't ring true. The people around us were horrified that she would do such a thing, but I liked it: this woman had spent a lot of time and attention on my story. Who wouldn't want a reader like that? Far better a nit-picky reader than one who doesn't remember your characters' names.
I often bring some pages of what I'm working on to book clubs, so that when they ask, "What are you working on next?" I can offer to read a little of the new story. It's good for me to hear their reaction to the work -- are they interested, engaged? do they get it? -- and they seem to enjoy knowing that there's another story in the pipeline.
Today, however, I have exactly 11 pages of my new novel. I wrote them yesterday, and early this morning. I like about 7 of them. Should I bring these pages?
1.) How presumptuous to think that seven pages I wrote in an hour or so would be of interest to anyone!
2.) If I read these pages, I might break whatever magic spell allowed me to write them.
3.) If the book club doesn't like my pages, there is the real possibility that I will be convinced that the story I want to write is no good. I spend half my days talking myself into my story and out of my doubt. I don't need other opinions to be part of this mix.
4.) I have a headache. If I read these pages, the book club event will go on longer than necessary.
1.) It would be interesting to see if I still like my pages when I share them in public. Were my very first instincts about this story right?
2.) There is no magic spell that will be broken if I read my early pages. Writing is not about magic. It's about words on the page and how they sound when someone else reads them. So there's nothing to lose.
3.) If the book club likes my pages as much as I do, that would be encouraging. I feel like I need a little encouragement just now.
4.) It's not every day I get a live audience interested in my work. I have about 6 book clubs coming up in the next month. I should use these opportunities to test drive my work.
Okay. I decided. I'm printing out my pages and then I'm out the door...