releasing creative control 2

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So this, I believe, is the central question upon which all creative living hinges: Do you have the courage to bring forth the treasures that are hidden within you?
Elizabeth Gilbert

In 2012 I wrote some poems, I collated them into a collection, and then I self-published a few to give to my family and friends.

The Friday that this precious box of books arrived I gave one to each member of my family. It had to be an immediate thing as I knew I would lose my nerve if I even waited one day to hand them out.

So I put my brave undies on, I got into the car, I delivered my books, and that was that.

Or so I thought.

What I didn’t know then is that books have a life of their own.

So when I walked into church on Sunday and was stopped by someone who had read my book at my sister-in-law’s house over the weekend. I was shocked.

Yes I know, I know! Books are meant to be read.

But for some reason I thought that only those people I had given the book to would read it. I hadn’t thought much past that to be perfectly honest. And yes, I am rolling my eyes at my own naivety as I type.

This thing that I created was released into the world and it suddenly took on a life of its own. I was no longer in control.

I am in a similar situation today. Over the course of the last two years I wrote a manuscript, dealing with grief and beauty and the intersection of the two when we learn to lament. I have agonised over word choice, and reworked structure. I have deleted some passages and edited others.

It has been my work for two years, my passion, an outpouring of my soul.

And then at the end of last year I took this manuscript to a writers’ conference and presented it to a publisher. Beyond all expectations she was willing to take a chance on my manuscript and on me.

A week later I signed a contract with her.

A publishing contract is amazing and scary. It is exhilarating and confronting. For once more I am in a position of letting go. While there is a partnership, there are elements that the publisher now has final say over.

I find again I have to let go of control. I have to trust my publisher. I also have to trust myself, that I made the right judgement call in signing that contract.

And when that book is finally released into the world. It will take on a life of its own that neither my publisher nor I will be in control of. We will both be taken on the amazing ride of a creative work released into the world.

And what a journey that will be,

PS – if you would like to be one of the first to hear when my book is released. Sign up to my newsletter here.

About Jodie McCarthy

Jodie is a writer, speaker, poet and mother. An unashamed words girl who writes to process the myriad of experiences of life. In her writing and on her blog she investigates the journey of life: the beautiful; the painful; the everyday; and the mundane. She has a heart for encouraging women on their life journey, particularly when that journey traverses the harder places of grief and pain. On the days when she is not writing you will find her in her kitchen, usually licking the beaters from a chocolate cake. You can find her books and follow her journey at

2 thoughts on “releasing creative control

  • Elaine Fraser

    I am in total agreement with your dilemma. My book was assessed by an agent and the feedback meant that I have to rewrite and remodel a lot of my original work. It’s taken me by surprise how much I’ve resisted the change, even though I know it will work.

    I just sat down today and worked out a compromise plan I think I can live with. At the end of the day, it’s your work, but it’s also got to sell.

    Listening to those with more experience is hard, especially when it’s your creative baby.

    Can’t wait until your book finally comes out! There will be prosecco and toasting galore! xx

    • Jodie McCarthy

      Yes Elaine, Prosecco and toasting sounds fab! Same for you when your book is ready.

      What a journey, it’s harder than having a baby isn’t it! There is no due date!

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