Friday, February 3, 2012

I Hate That You Have to Read This, But Not as Much as You Will

I wrote a book. I am writing a book.  I'm not sure which of these statements is true.

I finished the first draft in October, put it on the shelf for two months to let it breathe and have been editing for the last month.  Editing that consists of rewriting the entire second half, complete with changing the ending.  I have spent so much time with my characters I'm kind of at the point where I don't give a shit what happens to them.

It's sad, I know.  But it's life.

Or something.

I'm hoping to wrap it up soon and give it to a few friends and family members to read.  Beta readers, I think the term is.  But I will not be calling them that because the phrase makes me feel uncomfortable in that really uncomfortable way in which things that are uncomfortable make you feel.

I trust that they will give me honest feedback. I'm just not sure how honest, as they all know I walk a fine line between sanity and total nervous breakdown on any given day.

So, I'm thinking I might need a more objective eye.  Someone who doesn't care quite so much about ruining my life when they tell me I wrote one craptastic pile of, well, crap.  Someone like you, bloggy friend that I've never met.

Now before you're like, "oh yes! pick me!" you should read something.  It's the cover memo I wrote to the IRL people who will be reading my novel.  See below.

Hey there!  You’re about to read John and Darcy.  I bet you’re excited.  You are, aren’t you?  You shouldn’t be.  This story sucks.

See what I did right there?  I lowered your expectations.  Now, when you read it you’ll be like, “Hey, that wasn’t terrible.  It was even kinda good.”  I’ll be happy and you'll have no idea you just read a really awful, terrible, no good, very bad book.

Your task, should you choose to accept it, is to read this story and give me your feedback with regards to content, flow, plot, etc.  Don’t worry about grammar and mechanics and the overuse or underuse of commas.  The number of rules I’ve violated is akin to a Greek Tragedy, if that analogy makes any sense.  Which it probably doesn’t.  But hey, at least I didn’t write a book called The Most Amazing Analogies in the History of Ever.

Basically, I need you to tell me what you think (and I’ll try not to cry and sit in the corner eating my hair as I let your feedback wash over me like an acid bath with a sandpaper sponge).  

Did you connect with the characters?  Did you care about what happened to them?  Does the story’s progression make sense?  Do any scenes seem out of place or superfluous?  Do any scenes need to be added?  Did the characters remain true to their actions throughout the novel, even though (hopefully) they developed and changed?  What did you think of the ending? (If you don’t like it, I challenge you to rewrite it, damn it!  Kidding.  I love you.)

Also, I have absolutely no idea what to title this, so if you think of one, please let me know.

I really appreciate you taking the time to read this.  I know you’re busy and I want to make this as easy for you as possible.  Which is why I’ve created the grading scale below.  If you are unable or uncomfortable providing me the feedback I requested above, just circle the number on the scale that most closely resembles the way you feel after reading my novel.

1. That was amazing!
2. It was okay.
3. Meh.
4. It didn’t totally suck.
5. Watching flies descend on dog poop is more entertaining than reading this.
6. This is a joke, right?  Am I on Candid Camera?  Hi mom!
7. That was terrible.
8. You like me, right?  Then why the hell did you want to torture me like that?
9. I would thank you for wasting ____hours of my life, but I hate you so much right now I can’t even look at you.
10. I want to staple my head to the floor.

Thank you and have a blessed day.

Any takers?  Yeah, I didn't think so.

A writer is a person for whom writing is more difficult than it is for other people.
-Thomas Mann

Let's BEE Friends


  1. Writing is easy. Just bang your head on the keyboard until either your skull or the keyboard start to bleed. And then there's "writers don't like writing. They like having written." True, dat.
    I love revision, even as I get lost in the thickets: all the raw material of the first draft is there and now it's time to carve, polish, follow trains of thought you didn't realize you'd had, stumble on gems of sentences you don't remember writing...
    And lowering expectations never works. Good writing is hard. Period. No shortcuts, no steroids, no faking. So you offer up your draft with no apologies, dammit. Say to yourself "I'd like to see YOU write a book, sucka!" as you give the draft to your readers. And then of course: you don't have to take anyone's advice, either. You could end up like that guy in the fable, trying to please everyone...

  2. I'm in. I totally dig your blog and if your book sucks I promise I'll let you know in a constructive way. If it is awesome I promise I'll tell you why. That being said, I still want to follow your blog no matter what I think of the book because... well... your shit is funny and snarky.


  3. I am the world's slowest and most distracted reader. (Blog posts are the perfect length for me.) Soooo, I'd be happy to read it for you, but I imagine you may want a quicker turn around time with it??? Let me know. I'd love to help out if you need it and speed readers don't respond fast enough. :-)

  4. Not to brag here but I read-through Audrey Niffenegger's Time Traveler's Wife before she even had an agent, and also Joshua Ferris's And Then We Came to the End before he had one too. I wasn't wild about either of them and pretty soon afterwards both of these as you are probably already aware, sky rocketed and Brad and Jen bought the film rights to Audrey's book and then she got a whopping $5m for her second one. Oy vey. So what I'm saying here is that if I had the time to read your book which at the moment I don't b/c I'm writing my 2nd one - if I didn't really groove on it that would be a GREAT thing and you would sky rocket. I'm not a great judge of bestsellers, apparently. Good luck with your book my friend - in a few months (summer) I will have more time - just ping me in June if you are still looking for readers. (-:

  5. I know what you mean. I have a project that I wrote last summer that got two types of reviews from the people I shared it with.

    First group was raves. That was my wife.

    Second group was very critical. That was the industry pros I shared it with.

    I've been revising ever since. I just came up with another idea a week or two ago, so I might blow the whole thing up anyway.

    If I wasn't so ADD, I'd offer to help. How long is it? Longer than 1000 words? Good luck.

  6. Hahaha I love that scale, but I don't think its balanced...

  7. I would seriously LOVE to read your book. I'm not a professional but I love to read and I do it a lot...reading that is. I've always thought that if I could choose some other profession, I would be a book critic. I'm great at editing and ALWAYS find grammatical mistakes in books...always! So...if you want to take me up on my offer, let me know.

  8. You know I'm in. I'm kinda... sorta...ok, a LOT ADD, and my life is insane, BUT I can totally do this. So if you wanna, you know 52 ways to reach me :)

  9. I would love to read your title given. And I promise to let you know if it sucks. You will know this because I will be on your door step with 3 pounds of bacon and a case of wine, just so you don't hurt me. Let me know when you want me to start!

  10. Noodle! Give yourself credit for the amazing goal you reached. You wrote a mutha heffin novel.

  11. I have edited textbooks for high school business classes before. I am certain your novel will be more entertaining than those. Certain. And happy to help... I'm really big on knowing things before other people, including stories!

    And like Leighann said give yourself some love girl, that's impressive.

  12. I would absolutely LOVE to read your book... can you submit it in PDF format so I can put it on my kindle and read it on the bus?! I read books for review ALL the time... so I'd love to read yours. PLUS.. it'll be good experience for my creative writing class!

    see what I did there?

    PLEASE ... I'll beg... that's how much I want to read it.


  13. Go you!! That's WONDERFUL!!

    {And stop lowering people's expectations! You?A re amazing! You wrote a BOOK for goodness, sakes!}

  14. You did it!!! That is amazing!! Don't lower people's expectations. You're awesome!

  15. For chemgirl's demands, there is a free online PDF thingie you can use.

    I would love to be a beta reader for you, and actually give you my honest opinion cuz I think you know I love you and would do it in the nicest way possible. That's IF there was something I didn't like.

    So, I'm not gonna beg, but I would do it and take it seriously and be honored to help!

  16. Why yes, I would read it after that cover letter! Unfortunately it would raise my expectations rather than lowering them; it's like you don't know how to write badly. So yep, I'll just be spending my nonexistent free time reading the whole John & Darcy page. Thanks a lot. :p

  17. Pht. Don't be silly. I'd love to be your uncomfortable beta reader. :)

  18. Well I want a signed copy to put on my shelf when you are publish!

    1. published, published, published. Honestly this keyboard hates me.

  19. I love your blog, so I am guessing your book'll be great too! ;)

  20. You're a very talented writer so I'm sure the book is a lot better than you think it is. You've just been looking at it too long...that tends to convince writers that what they've written sucks. If I read it...I'm gonna expect an autographed copy of the final product. And I'll expect you to wrestle an alligator. Let me know.

  21. Of course, I'll read your book! I'm a lean, mean editing machine. You'll get a very matter of fact, objective list of suggestions. Just shoot me a virtual copy and give me two weeks.

  22. I know I'm pretty late to the party, but I'd love to read all about John & Darcy. And I promise to be as honest as an uncomfortable person who feels uncomfortable because of the uncomfortableness of uncomfortable honesty can possibly be.

  23. My favorite quote in your history of ever is "because the phrase makes me feel uncomfortable in that really uncomfortable way in which things that are uncomfortable make you feel."

    I like to just read that line over and over again, it makes me cheerful!


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