As many of you know, I’ve had two manuscripts out with beta readers recently. Last week, I got comments back on my novel Death Out of Time from 4amWriter, aka Limebirdkate. I cannot believe how lucky I was to have someone as talented as her go through the manuscript. Kate could teach a Master Class in Beta Reading.
Am I going to gush because she told me how good it was? Nope. Before getting to my main point, I’ll briefly gush because she pointed out how much work it still needs.
Confused? No need to be. This wasn’t a final draft. It was only a second. And since I haven’t been at this anywhere near as long as someone like Stephen King, I knew there was a lot of work ahead. I knew some things weren’t working as they should. I knew my main characters needed revision. And there were other things I suspected. Kate caught every single point that concerned me—and a lot more. If we’re going to publish good, well-written books, we need that kind of feedback on the work-in-progress.
Now don’t get me wrong. I’ve been going through all the stages of feedback grief that Kourtney Heintz covered so well in a recent post. That’s what writers do. Actually, that’s what we all do when someone else critiques our efforts. Show me someone who claims constructive criticism doesn’t sting just the tiniest bit, and I’ll show you someone being just the tiniest bit dishonest.
But there’s something in these experiences that makes me think maybe I can do this—that maybe I can write a successful novel. (And by successful I mean an enjoyable, interesting story that some number of people beyond close family and friends would like to read. Monetary success is a whole other unpredictable beast.)
You see, ten years ago, or even five, a beta reader’s comments would have been more than I could bear. No matter how carefully someone constructed his critique, no matter how supportive he was that I was on the right track, I might have tucked the manuscript in a dark corner of a closet and never touched it again. I might have quit writing. At best I would have quit hoping that anyone else would want to read my work.
But that isn’t happening today. I’ve been going over Kate’s comments, absorbing them and thinking about how to address them to improve the story. And the ideas are flowing. They’re not necessarily all good. I have to think through how each would affect the entire story. I’ll throw some of them away. But they are flowing. And I’ll think of more. And that means I’m moving forward. I’m not quitting.
And no one ever wrote and published a novel by quitting. We can’t succeed at anything by giving up before we’ve reached our goal.
Maybe this is a late burst of maturation and confidence in my life. Or maybe nothing creative ever took such hold of my imagination before. But whatever it is, I’m rolling up my shirt sleeves and getting down to the business of rethinking and rewriting. Draft 3 will be better. It won’t be the end. But I’ll be a few steps closer to writing a good story.
Maybe I can do this.
Have you surprised yourself by sticking to something you didn’t think you could do? Or kept going when others thought you would just give up or fail?
A Spammy Smile for the Day
“I really enjoyed this thread, please keep posting info like this.” — Just a nice comment on my Fun With Spam post, right? What made me smile was the “name” of the commenter—Poopyface Monger. It sounds like someone’s five-year-old came up with that one. 🙂