Only one of my first readers made that deadline, but another came pretty close. The other three…well, I have started getting comments drizzling back from one of them. The other two are hit-or-miss. One has never done this before and didn't understand the whole "first-draft-second-draft-deadlines" concept. The last, well, love him dearly, but I may never hear from him again. But I was sort of half-way expecting that.
But I can't blame the fact that I'm still working on it on my first readers. Truth is, I'm having trouble letting this puppy go. For one thing, I'm second-guessing myself. Did I actually get everything right? What if I got this part wrong? What if I overlooked something, forgot something, made a major error? What if I did a disservice to these people?
Besides that, the work has been grueling, but fascinating and rewarding. I've had the almost unique experience (in my life anyway) of waking up in the morning and actually looking forward to going to work every day. I've learned a lot. It's been – dare I say it – fun.
Part of this is just separation anxiety; empty nest syndrome. I've gone through some version of it with every book I've ever written. Wait; did I do this part right? I should have had hero do this on this page instead of back here. Oh, this would be so much better if so-and-so did this instead of that… I can spend the rest of my life writing and re-writing my stories. I've learned to grit my teeth and send them away, but it's always hard.
And mostly…I'm not ready to leave this world, this time, these people. They're almost all dead and have been for years, but they jump out of the notes at me, shout from log books and faded documents, laugh from letters. Their voices, grumbling out of old and very poor recordings, resound in my head, as familiar to me as the friends and family I deal with almost every day. They sound so alive, so vital, so real. How can they be gone?
But all good things, they say. It's time. I must move on. There are other stories to tell, and this one has to start earning its way.
On the other hand, there really is one thing I absolutely have to fix before it goes out…