I have known my mom my entire life, and she's a pretty decent person. As a kid, I knew she loved me. If I wanted something, she would usually get it. Each night, I slept carefree, knowing that she would protect me from the monsters that lived under my bed and in our creepy guest bedroom. Even now, as a grown man with children of my own, if I need something, my mom will take care of it. Ironically, though, I don’t trust my mom with my three children. She has never said anything mean or hurt them in anyway. She will do anything for them. However, I know she cannot protect them like I can. These are my children, not hers. I know them. I know what they need. For example, when my middle kid is sick, she only wants a new book and Oreos. My youngest daughter is afraid of animals, even stuffed ones. See, it’s these little things that only I know and only I can provide them. Now I know you are thinking that I am crazy and overprotective; however, you – as a writer – and I – as a parent - are just alike.
You know all those characters that you have hidden away? You lie to yourself by saying “they are not ready,” “I need to develop their story,” or “the editor will try to change them and turn them or their story into something different than I want for them.” See, your characters are your babies, and you are providing the same level of over protection that I am for my children. I know some of your characters and stories are based on your personal experiences, which you are not ready for the world to judge and criticize. For some authors, their characters are reliving real-life events that emotionally scarred them. No parent wants their child to live through the same traumatic experience as they did. It’s ok if this applies to you. Just remember, you survived, and so will your characters.
Now, think of your favorite literary character. Do you remember the emotions that you experienced while accompanying them on their journey? What if the author had been over protective like we are? How would your life be if you had never experienced this character and his or her story? Would you be the same person? What effect would this have on your babies? I know that if J.K. Rowling had kept Harry Potter hidden away and protected that my daughter would not be the bookaholic that she is…and who can imagine a world without Harry Potter?
So, the time has come to get your stories published; release those characters! I understand your fears. My son will be graduating from high school in a few weeks. I have been working on his character development for seventeen years, and he is still not ready. He’s one of the top three characters that I have ever created. Just like you, I’m not ready to share him with the world. However, just like your characters, it’s time for us to set them free.