So I took the plunge and using the medium of Facebook asked if any of my friends would read my book and provide me with some feedback.
I know, I know, friends never make good critics and the professionals and experts in the publishing industry always frown at using friends or family to read an aspiring writer’s work as it can give the writer false hope in believing that their work is actually marketable, when in fact – it’s a pile of freshly dumped dog shit.
But it got me thinking, if an aspiring writer only sent their work to book clubs or writing circles and they receive negative and frankly demoralising feedback, that writer may never pick up a pen or open a word document again .. Who’s to say that their writing really is that bad?
If a reader comes back to a writer and remarks “I really enjoyed that story” then the imperfections in the grammar, prose or style can be worked out, imagination and creativity are the key aspects.
Look at JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer – not the greatest writers (technically speaking) but they captured the imaginations of millions.
Now, let me stress this now before anyone who reads this thinks I am comparing myself to the above – NOT IN A MILLION YEARS! I am merely pointing out that using friends can be beneficial in the writing world – especially if your friends are blessed with a good working knowledge and understanding of the English language!
So then, I was surprised just how many of my friends PM’d me or commented on my status asking if they could read my story. I actually felt sick and so very nervous emailing my chosen 10 (yes, you are my special 10!)
I severely lack confidence in my writing ability. There are sections of my book that I wrinkle my nose up to and sigh with a heavy heart when reading (before I edit them though – I want to see if my beta readers think the same.)
There are bits I absolutely adore though and again, if they fall flat and I have to edit them out – I think I’ll cry!
This story has been a proverbial stone around my neck for years. I initially thought of my heroine 6 years ago, yes, 6 years ago and I wrote the first 2 sections in a mad frenzy the same night.
I then had a set of 7 night shifts and I wasn’t able to progress anymore for a whole week, when I did have some time off I re-read what I written and my self doubt destroyed my confidence . I disgustedly saved the file in a small obscure folder in my documents and left it for 5 years
But the story didn’t go away, it grew and grew and every so often I would scribble a few ideas down on a notepad to make room in my fuzzy cluttered head.
Relationships formed, magic systems grew and worlds started to have names and occupants.
About a year ago I thought “fuck it, I’m going to write this” and like a woman possessed I transferred the ideas from the dusty ether of my mind and pads onto the computer, but it happened again. Mr Doubt popped by and stayed for a few months, bastard wasn’t invited but he moved in and put his feet up on the sofa and smiled cheerily at me.
I kicked him out and got on.
The last few weeks have involved a few scene re-writes and about twenty scan re-reads. I haven’t spell checked it, I haven’t checked the grammar and I haven’t checked the timeline properly nor the continuity, but I decided to take the plunge and ask people to read it.
Why? Why would I do that knowing it isn’t a polished gem …
1) I want to know if the story works or if it’s a boring compendium of mismatched fantasy cliches
2) What genre of reader does it appeal to?
3) Are my characters likeable or believable?
4) Is it worth finishing?
These are the four most important aspects for me, and as such my special chosen 10 represent a broad range of ages (20 – late 30’s) and both male and female.
I am a firm believer in the saying “you can’t polish a turd” … If my book falls completely flat and I don’t feel I can work on the weak links, I will abandon it and move on.
If you never try though, you’ll never know.
As I typed out my cheerful email and clicked the send button to the beta crew I actually had to go to the bathroom as I was that sick.
If any of my 10 read this – I value honesty above everything else, I want to know
1. Weak areas
2. Sections that don’t work
3. Massive gaping plot holes (but please remember that there will be unanswered questions – this is book 1)
4. Continuity or timeline errors
5. Thoughts on the characters – what you like/dislike about them and why.
6. Loads of other stuff I can’t be bothered to type here!
With that, I’m off.