I recently gave one of my close friends, whom we shall call Hestia, a copy of the final draft of Those Who Trespass to read. Because she asked. She messaged me soon after to say she was three chapters in. I was thrilled.
The next day, she texted me to tell me that she was in the real-life setting of one of my scenes and was having a blast imagining Jenn and Clayton there.
She talked about my characters like they were real. I mean, they're real in my head. And I've discussed them with Shelley, the beta, and Robin, the writing-accountability-partner. But when we talk, they're still characters. They're still little pieces of art, the work of my own hands on paper. Still very much...fictional.
But they were real to Hestia.
And I think I felt, for the first time, what it's really like to give your story to a reader. You really do give it away. You put everything that's inside you on paper, and then you give it away and let someone else inside you. It's almost like someone reading your thoughts, except that you've given it freely. You've allowed them to own the story themselves.
I always wondered what it would feel like. I worried. It wasn't so much a worry that readers wouldn't like my story. I could deal with that. But I wondered if they would feel what I felt, if they would love it like I did, if they would live in the story the way I lived.
They do. Or, at least, one does. And I finally know what it feels like to give a story away.
It feels good.
I haven't lost, I've gained. The story is still all mine, but now it belongs to Hestia, too.
It's a beautiful thing, this authorly life.