Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Letting Go

     Getting my ARCs was a moment I'll never forget. It was surreal and overwhelming. It was all the good things I'd imagined since I started writing. My book looked like an actual book.
     I stood in my kitchen and stared at them. I took one out of the box. I flipped through the pages. Okay, maybe I danced with it. Then, a few days later, it occurred to me what having ARCs actually meant: people were going to read my book. Not my agent or my editor or my critique partners, but actual people. My peers. Reviewers. Possibly some of my idols.
     My parents.
     My mom read it first. She stayed up late on a family vacation to finish it, and the next day we went to a fabulous independent bookstore in Coral Gables, Florida and had a drink in the courtyard and discussed the book and my journey and it was wonderful and we hugged. My dad read it next. He didn't have the same reaction. The questions he asked made me nervous, made me wonder if I'd done enough, made me wonder if anyone would get it. He said he loved my language. He admitted he's not the target audience. He wished me luck.
     To be clear: my dad loves me and supports me 100% and always has. He was just being honest.
     And he made me realize something that I knew but didn't know until I got off the phone with him--it was time to let my book go.
     People are going to read my book, and I won't be there to tell them what I meant. I won't be able to ask them: did you get it? Did you see what I did there? They will bring their own histories and emotions to the pages and they will form their own opinions. And that's what I want. It is. Even if it's difficult (and amazing and makes me sick to my stomach). Because it's not my book anymore, it's yours.

Marcy Beller Paul is a young adult author, former editor, and full-time mom who still has all the notes she passed in seventh grade (and knows how to fold them).

She graduated from Harvard University and lives in New Jersey with her husband and two children. UNDERNEATH EVERYTHING will be published by Balzer + Bray, an imprint of HarperCollins, in October 2015.