|(Cover by Jesse Hodgson)|
For the first half hour after Stew arrived (once I’d checked my story for proofing errors, natch), I was elated. Here was my work about to make the journey into the hands of actual children for the first time! So I put the magazine in the hands of my own actual children and had them read the story. And neither of them liked it! How have I managed to breed these kids who dislike so much of my own work? (perhaps all that time devoted to developing their critical thinking would have been better spent making them recite the words “Dad, you’re a genius” over and over)
My self-doubt was eased by a couple of nice messages from people on Twitter, saying how much their children had liked the story (I resisted the temptation to make my own kids read these). It’s also a relief to be part of a larger magazine, full of other quality articles and features. A writer can hide behind the (true) notion that nobody can like everything, and a child will get a great experience out of the magazine regardless of what parts they enjoy most or least.
There’s additional comfort in having an editor and a creative team involved with the production. My creative choices have been analysed, approved and integrated into someone else’s artistic vision. I has become we. It’s made me realise how exposing self-publishing your novel must be, opening yourself up to praise and criticism without any buffer between you and the one-star Amazon reviews.
So, finally, my doubt has become expectation. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of kids are going to read Princess of Dirt over the coming months. Some will gasp, some will sigh, some will nod approval, and some will look confused and turn the page. But all of them will feel something. And isn’t that what good writing is all about?