About a month ago I finished the “first” draft of Reverie. I took very little time to enjoy the satisfaction of completing a project that took me nearly five years to complete. I had no sooner finished piecing the plot together and doing a quick read for typos and errors that I sent the book out to a beta-reader. My beta is a professional proofreader who was looking to add beta reading to her services. I was excited to be finished, but at the same time I was nervous. I was afraid of the feedback I was going to get. This was the first time I had finished a book, I hadn’t even had the coddling hands of a close friend read the book before I sent it out to a complete stranger, who is a professional. As soon as I hit the send button, I was thinking I should have taken more time to proofread the book.
Later in the evening, it finally dawned on me. I had finished my first book! I was elated. It was amazing to be able to say the book was finally finished, after years of hearing the same old Family Guy reference. “How you uh, how you comin’ on that novel, you’re workin’ on huh? Got a big uh big stack of papers there? Got a got a got a nice little nice little story you’re workin’ on there, the big big uh novel you’ve been working on for three years, huh?….” (We’ve all seen the clip.) It got so frustrating to hear my friends belittle my attempts at writing, I had stopped mentioning anything about writing on Facebook, or in their presence. If they had wanted to know how my writing was going they would ask right? Since they hadn’t I must assumed they didn’t really care. Last month the annoyance of that quote was gone, well I would have been if I had told my friends I had finished the book! By the next morning my elation became a forlorn feeling. I realized for the first time this part of the story was nearly at an end. The hard part was completed, I had written the story. The only thing left would be taking feedback and improving it.
In less than a week I got my first email from my beta reader. It came on a Friday while I was at lunch with a friend. I actually cut my friend off mid sentence and told her I had to read this email. I was surprised and excited. My beta reader had actually enjoyed my book! She had done an initial fast read through and was going to get to a full review in a couple of weeks.
She once again exceeded my expectations and found time between her paying jobs of proofreading to squeeze my novel in. She sent me the annotated copy of my novel, in less than a week. She loved my opening line, which was great. My teenage character was believable, which I wasn’t sure I had pulled off. I don’t interact with many teenagers at this point in my life and don’t have children of my own, so I was hoping I was an astute enough observer to be able to realistically describe it. My beta actually said “I think these scenes in this chapter have worked really well. Often it’s difficult to successfully portray feelings of happiness and family stuff, but I think you’ve got it right.” This was in reference to a chapter with a tantrum from my teenage character and the interaction she had with her mother.
The best part of her critique was at the very end. I had worried that I have ended the book in a cheesy or cliché manner, but she loved it. “I’ve just read this chapter for a second time, and for a second time I have tears in my eyes by the end of it.” She also had this to say about the final chapter, “The end of the book is excellent, and leaves everything set up for Part 3.”
I was needlessly worried about how beta reading was going to work for my novel. I feared the book was not going to be good enough to salvage. I like most writers doubt my own ability, but I have risen above my own expectations and am excited to start book one in this series. It will help clarify some of the issue I had in Reverie, due to not exactly knowing where the plot in Dissonance is going.
Writing has taught me more about myself and my own abilities. It has also uncovered my uncanny ability to always think I am not good enough, to only learn I have underestimated myself.