Beta Love

Hello fellow, bloggers, writers and readers. I don’t know about you, but for me sharing work with friends and family is terrifying. It’s like standing in front of them naked while they sit and judge. (Well it’s not, but it makes you feel just as vulnerable).

av2UntitledAfter my initial beta reading from my best writing buddy, I re-edited my manuscript and doled it out to a wider selection of willing friends and relatives. I was really nervous at first, I was letting my guard down in a real way and then as time passed I stopped being nervous. I stopped being nervous because not a single bloody one of them had read it. Then it was to hell with nerves and on with “where are you?” “how are you doing?” … and other ways of getting their arses in gear.

When I finally started getting some feedback back in from them the nerves started up again. What if they didn’t like it? What if they think I’m weird? What if they think it’s about them? And worst of all, what if they don’t think I should be a writer? … The funny thing about those worries is that they related more to me as a person than they did my book. I’m proud of my book and if I didn’t believe in it, I wouldn’t have showed it to them to begin with.

I’ll start by saying they’ve given me some fair and useful criticism, tips that are hard to see yourself on your own project. But the overall response has been a big thumbs up. ‘Hilarious’, ‘fantastic’ and ‘I forgot you’d written it’.

The latter is my favourite comment. I think that’s the highest praise you can give an aspiring writer because if the people who know you best have forgotten it’s your voice and are just enjoying reading a story, surely that must bode well for your prospective audience. I hope so anyway.

I’m looking forward to re-editing my manuscript based on their notes and getting it out in the world. Beta reading is about more than reaffirming an author’s confidence. It’s feedback from your market and a chance to see an objective view of something you can only be subjective about. It’s been fab to experience such great beta love and I hope my book will be all the better for it.

Where are you at with your stories? Are you nervous about beta reading? Have you been a beta reader? Do you think beta love is useful?

I always love to hear from you!

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Why is a Raven like a Writing Desk?

Lewis Carroll’s Mad Hatter asked us this question in 1865 and no one is any closer to solving the mystery. (If you say you’ve got it, I simply don’t believe you).

I’m three chapters into editing the third draft of my book and I’m asking myself ‘why?’ quite a lot right now. Why did I put that scene there? Why did she say that? Why is that in his perspective? Why did I choose to do that? Why did I want to be a writer? And why, why, is a raven like a writing desk?

You see, I’ve given my book a bit of break recently. I took the plunge and handed over my manuscript (if I’m going to be bold enough to call it that) to a beta reader, aka my long-suffering friend Phoebe. I’ll hold my hands up admit I could have scarcely been more annoying. Where are you up to? What do you think so far? So will you read more tonight? I’m a bit surprised we’re still friends actually… But we are. She put up with me valiantly and provided some top notch feedback. (See picture below)

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Except going back over it now feels different. It was written just long enough ago that now it’s a bit like someone else’s work. Past Sophie’s. I’m struggling to remember why I made these choices and why I put so many blooming words in a sentence. For the most part, past Sophie did quite well but future Sophie will be wondering why present Sophie is farting around instead of editing.

It’s the dreaded delete key! I understand Phoebe’s comments, I do, and I’m adding scenes and explaining more but I’m so reluctant to press delete. It feels like a piece of my soul has gone into that work and it’s so difficult to cut it out, even if it is for the greater good. Do you ever feel like that?

On the whole, feedback has been both positive and helpful. Having a writing buddy is really useful because they can be honest with you. And my writing buddy is a tough critic. I’m gradually telling my friends and family that I’ve written a book and want to be a writer. It feels a funny thing to admit. I’m half proud (ok a lot proud) and a bit embarrassed. On the whole everyone has been very supportive and I’ve had a lot of reading offers which I’m taking everyone up on! I need as much feedback as I can get – a book is a collaborative venture.

The support here online has been overwhelmingly lovely. I’d say something more emotive but I’m too British, emotion is reserved for fiction.

So why have I done it? Why have I decided to write? Well because I can’t not. And no other why’s seem to matter … except why is a raven like a writing desk, Lewis? One would almost think it was nonsense …