Since March’s topic is Writing Life, I’m going to share a story with you…
I always remember what agony it was as a child to have my father tell me his “stories.” You know the ones I’m talking about… They usually began with In my day or When I was a kid. Those kinds of stories. I usually hunkered down to wait out the storm because nothing in my life could ever be as bad as my father’s childhood growing up during the Great Depression.
Funny, but now that I’ve been writing for a while and have started mentoring new writers, I’m sounding a lot like my dad. Back when I started writing…
When I tell stories like that, I’m hoping to spare some newbie author the same agony I went through when I began this process. Since this is one of those stories, just so what I did when I was a kid and dad started in. Pretend to listen. <g>
Back when I started writing, I didn’t realize the value of letting other people read my work. Oh, I had such aspirations! That first book was clearly a masterpiece. It would be snapped up by the first publisher. It would have a Fabio cover. It would quickly rise to the top of the New York Times Bestseller list.
Ha ha ha…snort.
I have a hard time believing I was ever that naïve. But I was. Most newbies are. At least I had the sense to ask for help.
My father-in-law is a writer. He was thrilled I was writing since none of his children were writers. It gave us common ground, and when I finished that first “masterpiece,” I printed it out, shoved it in a binder, and begged him to read it. God bless him, he did.
Then he did me the biggest favor anyone has ever done in my writing career.
He critiqued it.
I imagine he went through at least three red pens making comments. Oh yes, it was THAT bad. I forced myself to absorb every suggestion, despite the fact that I could sometimes only look at a page or two before tears would cloud my vision. After so many rewrites that I lost count, I’m proud to say that book—Twist of Fate—was released by BookStrand.
There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t thank him for that help. He not only taught me more about writing than I ever imagined, he also taught me another more valuable lesson. You have to share you work. You have to get feedback. If you don’t, you’ll never improve.