|Image mine, edited on Picnik|
Even with that, though, I was surprised at a nigh-on panic attack I had when about to read something to my very awesome critique group, the Rivendell Platypi (yes, it's a long story).
I've mostly shared Quintessence with the Platypi. Actually, that's where my first scenes aired, before I had even officially started the book I was sharing it with them. It was also with them that I first did the horrifying read-aloud sharing, and, surprisingly, lived to tell about it.
Point being: I love these people. I trust these people. I know these people aren't going to rip me to shreds, though I expect them to give me advice on my work. Not only that, but I have given them my work before and received that advice.
And yet, I was shaking. I had to hold my knees down, one of my legs was doing that weird, very bobbly (that's not a word...hmm...) shaking movement, my heart was thudding, and it took me about thirty seconds before I could make myself start reading it.
One thing I said in those thirty seconds was: "This book is terrible!" which I quickly followed with: "that's not what I mean. It's just, I...care so much about it."
My awesome peers assured me that that was exactly what the deal was. (They also then didn't critique hardly anything about the excerpt, so apparently I went through that agony for nothing...)
Not surprisingly, the excerpt was from Forest of Lies.
I had said something the day before on Facebook about trying to pick an excerpt. After some discussion, I said this:
It's not that I was looking for the most polished or worried that it was all bad. You guys have convinced me to go with the more emotionally vulnerable, however. (Like all of FoL isn't emotionally vulnerable. *eye roll*)
Aha! Bingo. There it is. VULNERABLE.
There are few things closer to my heart than Forest of Lies, if ANYTHING is.
I think that is what has made it so resonate with readers. Reading draft III, you see a lot of my heart as a 15 and 16-year-old. Reading draft IV, you're going to see my heart as an eighteen-year-old. Forest of Lies is my heart story.
Awhile back, I posted a link to a blog post called The Honest Stain of Truth. Though in a slightly different vein, it also talks about honest writing--vulnerable writing.
There's a quote by someone (sorry, someone), that goes something like this: "No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader. No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader."
What am I trying to say with this long and rambling post?
You can write well without bearing your heart. But I think your readers will know. They'll also know when you're being honest with them--and I think those kind of stories are the ones that stay in your heart--because they came from the heart of another.