So many writers talk about this that I couldn't resist putting in a word for the feeling myself.
Yes, my work feels like I have created a baby, birthed it, and am sending my child out into the world. I think that's why it hurts so much when my baby is criticized.
I'm sure you feel the same. But I need to share something with you.
Once your baby leaves the nest, it's the world that's going to look at her, judge her for good or bad, spend time with her or not, and this, in reality, is a part of life.
I remember when I sent my first daughter off to kindergarten. I didn't think I was going to make it. I tried not to cry when she was standing there and I was giving her my - last - hug. Well, it felt like the last hug, and I cried all the way home. I couldn't even work that day, the fear of her well-being weighing so heavily on my mind. But in time, she came home, with grins and giggles about her first day at school and I knew everything was going to be alright.
Sending off your first book is more than a little like that. You wonder, "Will people like it?" The bad news, is that you're always going to wonder if people are going to like your book, whether your book is your first or your seventh, but the good news is, hearing the negative comments gets a little easier.
For my first book, A River of Stones, there were a few reviewers and readers that thought I was trying to convert them to the LDS religion. This wasn't the case. I simply shared a story of a young girl named Samantha and what helped her work through some of the hard times in her life when her parents divorced.
My second book, Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones, has offered readers an opportunity not only to read a story about a woman named Virginia and how God assisted her through the five stones, to overcome her Goliath, but gave readers an opportunity to look at their own life and see the changes for improvement they might make. Some readers didn't like this. They didn't like it that they had to look at their life.
I have had other comments for my mystery books. Some have liked them, others haven't. I have my own writing style, I know that, and I present my stories, mysteries and otherwise, in my way.
What you need to know is that criticism can be good and it can be bad. The most important thing about criticism is that you get to take a second look at your book. You can make a change on how you do things for your next book, or not. Just remember that sometimes the news you get isn't really accurate, rather someones own hang-ups coming out in a review or comment. Don't let these get to you. People aren't perfect, and that makes the reviews you receive less than perfect.
Your baby isn't perfect either. As she grows, you will find that there are things you can help her with, ways you can improve. This doesn't mean you're a bad writer, what it does mean is that there is always something to learn as a writer, just as a child learns as she grows to adulthood.
And that's what living on this earth is all about.