‘Tis the season for giving…away your heart and soul

If your heart and soul is a book. Which, let’s be honest, mine totally is.

Over the past year, I’ve been laboring over my first novel, “Red Rain Boots,” (for now) and I finally put the–for now–finishing touches on it this past Monday. I made my final revisions, closed the document, and immediately began sending query letters to agents. But that’s not what this post is about.

About a month and a half ago, I had the brilliant idea of giving my book to my mom as a Christmas present. This might not seem like a big move, but for the past, oh, my entire life, I’ve been telling her she’s not allowed to read my work until it’s published. Occasionally I’ll send her a short story or a handful of poems (in fact, one Christmas a few years ago I gave her a stack of poems), but for the most part I’ve stuck to my promise: she can’t read it until it’s published.

I’m still not 100 percent sure why I do this; it’s a combination of privateness, insecurity and the fear of becoming one of those people who writes novels that only their mother reads. That’s not the plan. Not at all.

Nonetheless, I made up my mind and set about on my brilliant plan to completely surprise and overwhelm her on Christmas day. I’d like to think I succeeded.

Post by Karis Rogerson. (Click to see a video of her reaction).
The copy of my manuscript I gave my mom for Christmas.  Photo by Becky Rogerson
The copy of my manuscript I gave my mom for Christmas.
Photo by Becky Rogerson

I spent a lot of time scheming. My father and I locked ourselves in his office and printed off all 142 1.15-spaced pages onto parchment paper, hole-punched them, tied it up with ribbon, curled the ends of the ribbon, wrapped it up. Then my father wrote: “To: Becky, Love: Santa Clause,” so my unsuspecting mother would assume it was a gift from my father. The surprise was assured. Now to make sure she was completely convinced she wouldn’t get my book as a present, I had several conversations with her in which I promised, time and time again, that it wasn’t going to happen. And after opening a pair of sweaters from me, she was sure: her Christmas wish of getting my book wasn’t going to happen.

If you’ve ever written a book (or a short story, or a poem, or a nonfiction essay…) you know how much you get attached to it. The characters, products of your brain, seem to jump onto the page and assume a life of their own, living, breathing and wreaking havoc with your carefully plotted out story. The whole thing becomes a part of you. It’s an outpouring of your soul, and when you’re done you see it there, translated into dashes and curves on a white page, and wow…it’s kind of breathtaking.
It’s hard to give that away. It’s hard to send it to publishers and agents, and somehow even harder to give to family. Because if your own family doesn’t fall in love with what you’ve written, well…that’s a problem.
But I did it. And boy, was it worth it.

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