Since becoming a mother, I’ve been struggling with the concept of letting go.
Releasing my daughter’s hand to let her walk on her own, dropping her at nursery in the mornings – tiny steps toward her independence that appear unsurmountable at first. I can’t picture my daughter leaving for college one day without having a panic attack. It doesn’t matter that she’s only a toddler still. This day will come too soon.
My main protagonist, Sloane, deals with similar issues. As a mother first, and then as a person. Incapable of letting go of her marriage although the divorce has already been pronounced, holding onto her deep certainty in the goodness of human nature even when evidence to the contrary lines up before her eyes. This, perhaps, is the reason why Sloane is my first character really coming to life, and why the novel works. We are somehow challenged the same way.
When it comes to my manuscript, I am faced again with the same letting go problem.
As I explained in my last blog post, I sent my book for copyediting recently. It came back to me this weekend, with a very encouraging review from the copy editor. I should be thrilled, and I am, really. I’m also frightened. Just a few minor alterations, a couple more weeks at most, and my novel will be officially done – eighteen and eager to leave the house.
Finding an agent, or getting my grown-up novel formatted for self publishing. Sending my manuscript to college in short.
Whatever publishing solution I end up choosing, I’ll have to let go of my story. Only then can it graduate into a final published book and make its hesitant debut into the world.
Before publishing, my novel lived under my roof, and my watch. Copyediting was summer camp – my novel left for a month, learned a few things, but it came back to me.
Once I take the plunge and send the manuscript out, it will never be completely mine again. It will interact with the world and become its own person. I do wish this for my baby, just as any loving parent should, but I’m also terrified of seeing my influence morph into a small murmur in the background. What if it needs me still?
As it so often happens in an author’s life, there comes a time to be brave and trust your story will find its way. Let go of the fears and open the doors wide.
Soon, I’ll kick Sloane out of the nest and see if she can fly. I pray she doesn’t crash to the ground. I won’t be far anyway, and I’ll be ready to nurse her if she falls.
Let’s be honest. I’ll never truly let go. But perhaps I can pretend well enough for my novel to find her wings and soar high.
What about you? Do you also suffer from separation anxiety? How do you deal with it?