The world is your oyster* and you’re a pearl of a girl.
Thanks, Mom, for giving your daughters that little pearl of wisdom, sitting all purdy on a bed of confidence and hope. But one of your girls is a writer now, and she knows she can’t take that little gem to the bank, not without a couple of caveats, to wit:
*But you also need the love and support of family and friends, especially on those dark days when your writing chops are wallowing in the dirty glass by the sink, and your inbox is sullied from yet another ‘Dear Author’ rejection, and. . .
. . .you need great beta readers: forces of nature who won’t hesitate to irritate, cajole, nudge, inspire, and/or otherwise KICK YOUR ASS–whatever it takes to move you forward, beyond the dreaded clutches of Complacency and Mediocrity.
Because anyone can write a novel. But not everyone can write a good novel, a great novel. Not alone, anyway. You need folks who have your best interests at heart to shore you up and tell you the truth; bright, intuitive people who recognize poor practices and good writing, and who bring high levels of expertise and objectivity to the table.
By the way, the above may not be mutually exclusive.
My greatest champions for CHERRY were family members and, surprisingly, betas who became really good friends. But I’ve also had a couple of phenomenal betas who specifically told me, You don’t want me to be your friend. I’ll worry about hurting your feelings and you don’t want me to sugarcoat the truth.
Yes, I did, at the beginning of this process,, when I didn’t know diddly squat. But I sure as shit don’t want that now. Tell you what: the best beta readers may or may not be my friends–they may not even be writers–but they are bright, intuitive, pretty damned objective, insightful, great communicators, creative, and able to see the big picture.
And listening to them, considering their suggestions through my own (semi-objective) lens, has drawn CHERRY out of its shell, changed it from a good novel to something–if not of beauty–then, at least, of value.
That’s what I want, not just for CHERRY, but for everything I write.
CHERRY’s good. Good enough to have caught the attention of agents and editors alike. Good enough for one smart young agent to take a chance. I’d like to take all the credit.
No, I don’t. Because I didn’t write CHERRY by myself. I had a virtual army behind me: family, friends, and great beta readers who wouldn’t let me rest on my laurels, not for one second. Because of them, I hacked and slashed, rewrote, added chapters, moved chapters around, revised again, and yet again. . .
Irritating sometimes, sure. But sometimes, irritation is exactly what you need to get your ass in gear. You have to work out the kinks. Start over sometimes. Polish that turd until ain’t a turd no moh. Without that, I wouldn’t have a novel that’s good, maybe good enough to be published. I certainly wouldn’t have my agent.
I wouldn’t be writing today.