So, this evening Dad told me he had nothing to read at the moment and wanted to know if I had anything with an ending lying around. He may have phrased it a little more kindly than that, but close enough. Then Mum commented that she'd been reading stuff on my old laptop and she remembered me saying that I had a complete version of Dark Star. I was left with nowhere to hide, so now my parents are going to read the first complete draft of a book I've been working on since 2002.
No, slightly longer. 2002 just marks the first electronic version.
Anyway, while I'm sure it's good for me to have people reading it and I know my parents are going to provide useful feedback, there is definitely fear involved. There's that urge to belittle the effort and warn them about all the crappy bits, or to tell them that there's no point reading it because I need to make big changes to two particular sections, or... well, there's a thousand excuses. There was also a handy brand-new flash drive of Dad's and like I said, nowhere to hide.
They also both spent some time talking to me about The Frozen Tear and gave me a (possibly inadvertent) butt-kicking about the number of classic fantasy-type elements I keep hanging onto with it. For example, I have a perfectly good rail network and yet I sent the characters on a long journey on horseback. I have two ideologically opposite but not necessarily evil groups who have a vested interest in the activities of the Chosen One and yet I've been raging over the fact that there's nobody trying to stop him. I know I have a lot of problems with the story, but I'm starting to feel like I can't find the solutions because I've been looking in completely the wrong direction.
Again, this is probably a good thing.
Anyway, having successfully resisted the urge to explain to my parents about all the things I should fix in Dark Star, I guess in the next couple of weeks I'll find out if they even pick up on these points. I expect criticism on at least one of them and I have no idea what they'll make of a few things my bad guy did or the fact that there's a completely pointless assassination in there somewhere. I'd like to think that they'll feel sorry for my poor tormented main characters, because I certainly do. I have a few writerly guilt issues about some of the things I've done to these characters.
Still, at least it's not as bad as giving them Toby. I'm not sure if I'll ever be able to do that.