Beta Readers, please, crush my soul.

March 2, 2018

The ideas come easily. The self-editing, a joy. I get to relive the stories and the characters. I laugh; I cry. I add details that were missing, I clarify things, I fix errors.

 

I make everything perfect. Or at least I think I do.

 

I have learned so much in the past month of trying to get published, and the first thing I learned was that one should have beta readers go over their work before even thinking about sending it to a publisher. Fine, I think, no big deal, I got nothing to hide.

 

I can be a little too confident sometimes.

 

This has been hard for so many reasons.

 

1) Finding anyone interested in beta-reading a novel. It's a huge time commitment, I get it. But it worries me, because I really want to test out the waters with this piece before I start querying. I feel like I'm stalling out.

 

2) It is incredibly difficult to keep an open mind when someone critiques your work. I've poured my heart and soul into a piece, then they come around and tear it to bits. Writing is not for the faint hearted, if I can't even get a critique without feeling torn up, how will I ever handle talking to a publisher? So what do I do? I wait a day, then I go back after the initial shock has worn off, and I look for the suggested improvements. Because a critique is only good if it includes concrete suggestions to improve. Which moves me to the second point.

 

3) Lack of motivation. Before I even sent out my novel to a single reader, I really thought it was near perfect. Then the suggestions started rolling in. So many of them. I got overwhelmed. I know I should go back into the novel, strike while it's fresh in my mind, fix the things that need to be fixed. But every time I open the document, I just feel unmotivated. What to do? Move on to other things? Just let it rest for a while? What if I never pick it back up? What if I never take this next, necessary step to publishing?

 

4) Take it or leave it. Sometimes suggestions are just exactly right, and you think, "That's it, that's exactly what I needed to hear!" Other times, garbage. Learning how to recognize the difference; now that's the hard part. In the end, I guess each writer just has to stick to their own style. I want my writing to read very comfortably, naturally, like a person telling a story to their friend. Does this mean that I have the occasional grammatical error? You bet. But you know what, I'm going to own that. So long as it's not distracting, I'm okay with it. 

 

In the end, you have to be true to yourself. I've read dozens of critiques (over my short stories). Some of them made me swell with pride, others gave me a lot to think about and adjust, and still others just made me roll my eyes and move one.

 

 

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