When Living Right was in its infancy, I only trusted a few people with it. I tentatively asked, Should I keep going? Is there anything worthwhile here? They loved it--perhaps only because they love me--and told me to keep coaxing this story into existence.
A few drafts later the book felt like a preschooler: A little more resilient, but not ready to go out into the world without adult supervision. I gave it to a larger circle of trustworthy people for feedback and guidance. It was strong enough to take their criticisms. I listened carefully and made adjustments that felt right. Living Right was taking on a life of its own.
Elementary school was a breeze. Everyone I gave it to loved Living Right. It made them cry. Oh my! Wasn’t it just the best, most important and beautifully written story ever?! Those were the days.
The middle school years were the hardest. That’s when I brought in the professionals. Some professionals turned it down. Their honest assessment was that no one wanted to read this story. Others were brutal in their feedback, but had hope it could be ‘saved.’ They expected so much of Living Right. And that was what I was paying them for. They had no patience for what I meant to convey. No! They insisted that the writing be precise in telling a story with great pacing, believable and interesting characters, and perfect grammar.
By the time I pressed the publish button, Living Right felt more like a high-schooler than a baby. I was pretty confident that I had done my job well, and that this story could go out into the world without me. It could interact with complete strangers and hold its own. I was still nervous, though: perhaps it is “too gay for Christians and too Christian for gays”; perhaps the readers who loved Mattie and Lisbeth will be disappointed in my second work.
Only time will tell how this ‘teen’ is going to do in the big world. I'll be a coach and a cheerleader as it makes its way in the world, but Living Right will be standing on its own merits. If I’ve done my job, it will take me places and teach me things I hadn't expected, like all teenagers do.