Letting Go Of Your Work

Whenever I am interviewed about my latest release or publishing in general, a question comes up about reviews and reader reactions. People wonder how I handle bad reviews or reader disappointment. My answer is simple -

I release everything.

The good and the bad. None of it is actually mine to keep or sort out.

What do I mean by that?

I believe that your art is no longer yours once you've released it into the world. It belongs to humanity, not you. In the case of the words I write or speak, once they leave me, once I publish them and release them into the world, they are no longer mine. I have no right to judge what others think, no reason to impose my meanings upon them.

The art no longer belongs to me.

Readers get to judge what they are reading. They are allowed to hate it or love it. They can glorify or vilify. The choice is theirs and theirs alone.

My job is to release that project and move on to the next.

This is not to say that I ignore all reader feedback. In fact, I often solicit input from my most devoted fan base before completing projects. Sometimes the feedback is related to upcoming projects. Sometimes it's associated with a specific topic or book. Regardless of what information I am requesting, this is different than the feedback received once I have released my art into the world.
Now, I am human - I am not immune to a bad review. And, I feel incredible joy when a reader reaches out to tell me they loved something of mine. But I have learned not to let any of this influence me as an artist. I don't want the highs to feed my ego, or the lows to destroy my confidence. Instead, I want to move steadfastly in the direction of my creative muse. For me, this means I must let go - release the work and start something new.

Letting go of your work is not always easy. After weeks, months, years, working on a specific project, it can be challenging to let go and allow the readers to make of it as they will. Often, I have to remind myself that the book is not mine anymore. Or quickly start something new. Fortunately, I usually have several projects happening at once. This allows me to busy myself with the next story and fully release the one I've published.

Marketing new work can make this even more difficult. But for me, there is no way I can creatively move forward if I am clinging to past projects.

So I let go.
I take a deep breath and say goodbye.
And I start something new.

How do you release your work into the world?

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