I spent part of the weekend testing it. There are friends whose opinion I trust, and with the series complete, it was time to show it to them to get some feedback.
Nerve racking? You don't know the half of it. I had very specific ambitions with this series. I knew what I wanted it to do and to be. The question was, did I convey that? If someone read this story, would they get it?
Results of the preview reads?
Excellent marks all around.
Don't get me wrong, it's not like Neil Gaiman or J.K. Rowling are going to be quaking in their boots at the 50 megatons of awesome that is my talent. But everyone who has read it says that it is very solid storytelling, my pacing is excellent, my characterization is spot on, my symbolism there without being patronizing or getting in the way. But the most important thing was the atmosphere. The series is basically an extended mood piece. As such, if you do not adequately convey the characters' emotions and what they are experiencing, the whole thing falls apart. It is the Golden Thread of any such project.
Everyone got it. Everyone grooved to it.
What a relief! I have NEVER pushed my writing as hard as I have with this series. I have never agonized over every single word in every line of dialog before. I had signed up for something I didn't know I could pull off. I wanted to make it good. It didn't have to be the greatest thing ever, it just had to do the job right.
It looks like it did.
Next time I try a project like this, I'll still be sweating making it the best I can. But at least I know doing that is not beyond my capabilities.