When I wrote my first novel, I told a lot of people about it. I told them in order to hold myself accountable. I knew if I didn’t finish it, I would be teased and nagged endlessly because I was a quitter.
Unfortunately, that also means there were a LOT of people who wanted to read it the moment I was done.
I hoarded my novel for over a year before I let anyone read it. And then, the only person I let read it was my mother.
It’s important to remember that what my mom read was a zero-draft, never edited, piece of crap I wrote in a little over a month.
The worst part about my mother reading my book was that she printed it off and left it laying around the house. I found it on the kitchen counter, the coffee table, and she even took it to work for a few days.
I was mortified that someone OTHER than my mother was going to read it and then never speak to me again.
Keep in mind that my first novel was all about dragons, magic, and warring wizards.
I don’t know if I was more appalled by someone reading my book because of the subject matter, how awful it was written, or because I literally had characters whose names were their profession, (e.g., “Evil Wizard” and “Good Wizard”).
After my mom read my book and didn’t completely hate it (though she did admit it was not her usual type of book), I found I was more likely to share my work. That doesn’t mean I don’t have a dreadful feeling in my stomach as I wait for critiques though. And it also doesn’t mean I’m going to let just anyone read it.
Strangely, sharing my work has never affected what I want to write. I don’t care if people judge me for what I write. I write about things that interest me and that I like. Writing about topics that are more “acceptable” to most people is boring to me.
I’m more self-conscious when people ask me for recommendations on what books to read. I know my taste in books is a lot different from most people, especially since I read almost exclusively young adult books.
I accepted a long time ago that other people’s opinions aren’t important to me. I only care about a select few, and those people are close enough to me to know exactly what type of stories I write and what I read.
If someone doesn’t like what I write, that’s fine. It doesn’t offend me at all. It’s not going to stop me from writing stories that make me happy.