I have a reader who loves my stories. Let’s call her Megan, she’s a reader reader, not a writer reader. Now Megan read a novel of mine sometime last year. I made sure she knew that I wanted her to point out what she thought was wrong with the novel, and told her it would be nice of her if she could point out one or two things she liked about it as well. Just to keep a balance, you know? I’m a fan of the critiquing sandwich rule.
Something you have to know about Megan, before I continue with this, is that I’ve known her for about three years. We work together, we have our first cup of coffee in the morning together, and chat about the random things that happen in our lives. We even indulge in office gossip, we’re females, what did you expect?
Yes, Megan is my friend and I asked her to read my novel and tell me what she thinks about it. I know most of you are probably frowning with disapproval at what you just read. I’m a writer with the hopes of becoming a published author and I gave my novel to a friend to read. One of the very first things I learned when I decided to take this whole writing thing seriously was to never ever give your writing to friends or family to read. Why? Because they won’t give you an honest opinion. They won’t want to hurt your feelings. They’ll tell you how wonderful your story is and that it’s the greatest thing they’ve ever read.
I’m covering my head because you might throw stuff at me for what I’m about to say.
I don’t think it’s such a bad thing. Give your stuff to at least one person that won’t find anything wrong with it. They’ll think it’s wonderful and ask if you have anything else they can read.
Before you start shouting and throwing things, allow me to clarify why I feel this way.
I choose to believe a lot of things in life. I choose to believe people are good before I believe they’re bad. I choose to believe that tomorrow will be better than today. I firmly believe that coffee was invented to make people more bearable before 9am every morning. And I believe that, if you’re a serious writer, you know the difference between what your friends/family members tell you and what your critique partners say about your novel.
I also believe that you need one person to believe in you and your writing, nomatter what. It can be your husband, your best friend, a sibling. It doesn’t matter. Because writing a novel really is like riding a roller coaster. There are a lot of ups and downs, and we need those people who believe in us when that roller coaster is at its lowest point. The people who read our writing and think it’s marvelous, no matter the obvious flaws, they shouldn’t be underestimated or disregarded so easily.
That one person could be the difference between you giving up on your writing when you feel that it’s not worth the effort anymore, and writing a novel that will end up on bestsellers lists.
That one person will give you the encouraging and motivation and support you need to get things done, it’s their part. You part is to realize that there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done and to make the changes necessary to get to where you want to be.
Megan read my novel before I sent it to my CPs, before I gave it a new first chapter, and before I attacked it with a red pen and tore it to shreds myself. She loved it and said she didn’t have any major issues with it. I loved her for that. But I was also realistic and took it from where it came.
So when the bad, negative thoughts start kicking in, I focus on Megan and what she represents. There will always be people who don’t like or understand your story. We can’t take that personally. But I’m also pretty sure that there are more people out there who will like you story than dislike it.
This post isn’t about the writers who don’t pay attention to the rules or disregards it when somebody tries to help them make their writing and story better. This is a post about the people who support and believe in you, no matter where you find them or who they are. They come in all shapes and sizes. It’s what you do with what they tell you that will make the difference.
Maybe one day I’ll reveal Megan’s true name and send her a link to this post, just to tell her that I’m grateful for what she did for me without even realizing it(or maybe she’ll find it on her own). She made a difference. The novel she read has since been trunked because I realized it just wasn’t special enough but I still appreciate her kind words and enthusiasm.
So tell me, do you have a Megan? Or do you disagree with me completely? I’m open to