Try this neat trick: Walk into a roomful of toddlers and yell, “Belly!” Before you can say “button,” every child in the room will have lifted his or her shirt to show off a swath of midriff.
When I was writing the first few chapters of my novel, I wanted feedback. I wanted to know if I was on the right track, if the setting was believable, if people cared about the characters. Otherwise, why invest years of my life in this thing?
But once I got going, sharing my work-in-progress didn’t make as much sense (most of the time). I’ll write more on the challenges of workshopping a novel, or getting feedback on it in other ways, in the future. For now, let’s just say that in the beginning, a writer working on a novel is like a toddler, willing to flash belly far and wide. Then the novel matures and keeps its shirt on until it’s in the adolescent or early adult stage, willing to don a bikini. Maybe that bikini-wearing novel is the final draft.