The hardest thing about writing a book--at least for me--is having other people read it. All my defense mechanisms kick in, including the pre-emptive self-effacement ("It sucks; I'm sorry I subjected people to this tripe"), the reactive self-defense ("What the &%$*%& do they know, anyway?") and the self-serving faux humility ("Oh, glad you enjoyed it; of course it's totally meaningless, in the same way that everything is ultimately meaningless--oh, I'm so spiritual and couth"). So far with Deliver Us from Me-Ville I've received a "bit-o-encouragement" from a guy whose book I'm editing (pretty delicate situation I've forced him into, isn't it?); he said it offers a good discussion of the distinction between significance and self-absorption (I'll have to reread it). A friend who is on the pastoral staff of a church on the east coast says she likes it a lot; "the authenticity and transparency is really going to resonate with people." A friend and unknowing mentor of mine sent me a quick e-mail letting me know that from his quick initial scan, the book looks decent. I should quickly aver that none of these folks has read the whole thing yet, so it's possible they haven't yet reached the really lame parts.
The big test of my depth of character is on the immediate horizon. Some friends are writing a full constructive critique of the manuscript as it is. These are folks well-heeled in the publishing industry, so they know what works and what doesn't, and they have little patience for mindless tripe. One of them e-mailed me today to let me know her critique is in the mail. I suddenly don't feel well.
My subject matter doesn't help. A potential alternate title for the book was Enough About Me. So far, that's not been my experience; I'm generally up for talking about myself, and writing a book makes for lots of polite conversation about yourself anyway, no matter how hard you try to avoid it.
It strikes me that there's a paradox in the escape from superbia (another potential title, once upon a time): you think about yourself through to the other side, where you (hopefully) understand yourself in proper context. It's like getting over smoking by smoking till you throw up, but it's also like sitting down with God and saying "Search me and know my heart," and then really paying attention to what he has to say.