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View Full Version : Took the plunge...letting someone read my work.



Jennasis
05-21-2009, 03:17 AM
Well at SOME point you gotta right? I have been very reluctant to share my writing with anyone. There is a big part of me that feels like I'll be embarassed in some way. But if I'm going to be a writer, at some point I have to get it out there. It was a small step, I sent my Wip to my Dad. The material is right up his alley and he's a voracious reader. I made him swear to be honest...and I think this small step may be a good one. Dad will tell me what he thinks without being cruel...there'll be plenty of that down the road for sure, but for now I need constructive criticism and time to thicken my skin!

Honestly it was so liberating when I hit send on the e-mail. I'm kind of jazzed to see what he has to say. Even if he hates it, he'll give me some valid reasons why and I can tweak away from there.

So...was it like this for everybody? The very first time to shared your work?

Leanan-Sidhe
05-21-2009, 03:27 AM
Congrats, Jennasis! I agree that it can be a big step. I remember letting my friends in high school read my first (awful) book for the first time. Next thing I knew they'd shown it to my English teacher, and she wanted a look...

But yeah, another set of eyes is invaluable. I don't know what I'd do without my current critique partner.

scarletpeaches
05-21-2009, 03:29 AM
Oh good Christ. The first time I sent something in my current genre, my stomach was churning.

Luckily she - thethinker42 - liked it, and I gained in confidence to the point where I now send her every single chapter as I write it. You're not really supposed to send out first drafts, I know, but she's a fan, so why not?

And it bolsters my confidence to know she likes what I write (once she looks past the 'this is a first draft so remember that, right?' nonsense).

JonSwift
05-21-2009, 03:29 AM
I didn't share my first novel with anyone. I'm glad I didn't. It was trash. Since then I've learned a lot so I can look back and see development, so that's cool. I just finished my third novel and am waiting for edits. Hopefully in a couple of months I can share it with somebody.

ChaosTitan
05-21-2009, 03:31 AM
Hmm...the first story I ever shared with someone was in seventh grade. It was handwritten in a notebook, maybe the equivalent of 15k words. It was my first piece of fiction ever, and I gave it to my then-best friend to read. We had a fight a few weeks later, and in a fit of pre-teen rage, she ripped it up and flushed it.

Ah, memories...

thethinker42
05-21-2009, 03:32 AM
So...was it like this for everybody? The very first time to shared your work?

Oh man, I freaked. I still do whenever I send work to someone who's never read my stuff before. Hell, I still end up on pins and needles when I send something to scarletpeaches, and she's read almost all of my books (and chapters from books I never finished).

It's nerve-wracking, but hey, we're writing to be read, so it's a necessary evil. :) Mad props for getting the courage to show it to someone. It's a big step.

colealpaugh
05-21-2009, 04:05 AM
I remember my first crit like it was yesterday, even though three decades have passed. I was a young, fabulously talented poet under the tutelage of the great American poet Gerald Stern.

He sat across from me in his office midway through the first semester, shuffling my collection of poems in his hands.

"Cole," he began, in that gravely voice which struck fear in the hearts of freshman. And you could sense how much he enjoyed striking that fear.

I sat casually awaiting the praise, waiting for his guidance in how best to handle my imminent fame.

"Cole," he repeated. "You have wasted how many sheets of paper? I count twenty-three. It's a shame you're past the drop-add date."

I grew to love him. Sort of.

My advice is to revel in the criticism. Don't fear it. Learn from it. And keep writing.

kej5009
05-21-2009, 04:16 AM
Oh boy. Two years ago, during my sophomore year of college, I took an advanced fiction workshop class. It consisted of everyone in class submitting their story a week before "their day." I'm sure everyone knows how workshops work. Everyone got a copy, marked it up, and the next class everyone would critique it right there in front of you. And you weren't allowed to defend anything! It was a great experience, but nerve wracking. You learn so much though.

On a side note, there was a couple of really snotty, snarky members of the class who would out-right make fun of stories outside of class. Humph. Obviously, I'm still not over it...

soapdish
05-21-2009, 04:20 AM
Hmm...the first story I ever shared with someone was in seventh grade. It was handwritten in a notebook, maybe the equivalent of 15k words. It was my first piece of fiction ever, and I gave it to my then-best friend to read. We had a fight a few weeks later, and in a fit of pre-teen rage, she ripped it up and flushed it.

Ah, memories... Oh, that's HORRIBLE! LOL
I had a similar experience, only instead of her flushing it, she just wrote silly comments in the margins. I had forgotten about it until I read your post. But I couldn't really blame my friend, I was really into V.C. Andrews back then--the drama was a little heavy. :tongue

Now, the SYW board here is really the first time I have ever shown a "stranger" anything. And I was crazy scared the first time. It lessens each time--but still--I get butterflies. I don't know if it ever goes away.:)

Sharonb423
05-21-2009, 04:46 AM
Oh I feel your pain!!! I did let someone read my short stories and after positive feedback I was comfortable letting someone else read it too. Now with my novel... that's a little different.

I've been sending 3 chapters at a time instead of the whole thing, like letting go of my baby one little step at a time. Good luck to you, keep us posted!

Matera the Mad
05-21-2009, 05:31 AM
Good job! Gotta start developing that rhinohide some time. :D

EFCollins
05-21-2009, 05:45 AM
Oh I feel your pain!!! I did let someone read my short stories and after positive feedback I was comfortable letting someone else read it too. Now with my novel... that's a little different.

I've been sending 3 chapters at a time instead of the whole thing, like letting go of my baby one little step at a time. Good luck to you, keep us posted!

I'm still sending mine out one chapter at a time, so I feel you there. I can take crits very well on short pieces. It's like taking it in sips because you know a big gulp will burn your tongue and leave it feeling furry for the rest of the day.

I can let people crit short work all day long. Maybe I'm just a short story writer and not a novelist... hmm.

Now, to the OP. Congrats on getting up the nerve. :) It's not going to be as bad as you think. We get nervous because our work is personal to us. But in the end, you only want your "baby" to be better and stronger. This is just one more step in making it the best it could possibly be. Kudos and keep us posted.

Jennasis
05-21-2009, 06:35 AM
Thanks. Maybe a part of feels that letting my work be read validates me as a writer...even if I suck eggs at it. I trust my dad's opinion, and I know he'll be firm but gentle with his criticism.

It actually took me a very long time to even tell my parents (and even my husband) that I was writing a novel. The hubbs says he will never read it...he's afraid to! Thinks it would negatively impact our marriage if he didn't like it or if he had any criticism!.

wannawrite
05-21-2009, 06:49 AM
It gets easier.

P.S. Your hubby sounds like a very wise man.

Jennasis
05-21-2009, 06:53 AM
It gets easier.

P.S. Your hubby sounds like a very wise man.


You have no idea. He amazes me sometimes. Supports my writing a 1000%.

wannawrite
05-21-2009, 07:02 AM
Does he have a brother? Or sister? lol

Jennasis
05-21-2009, 07:10 AM
Does he have a brother? Or sister? lol


Got an older brother...but I wouldn't wish that deadbeat on my worst enemy. If I could clone my husband...and then sell the clones, I'd be a gozillionaire! He cooks, cleans, does laundry, ironing, fixes anything and everything..truly a renaissance man who rocks my world!

The Lonely One
05-21-2009, 07:57 AM
Shared my work crayons in kindergarten. Never looked back.

NoelleB
05-21-2009, 08:30 AM
Hahaha great story:
My first short story I wrote, I handed to my mentor with pride.
It was returned to me without any comments.....

with a match taped to it.


(for the clueless: the match was so I could burn it)

Nice, huh?
But it truly did suck... it was entitled "the 8th princess" and that should say enough, really.

Red_Dahlia
05-21-2009, 08:51 AM
When I was a kid, I used to show my work to my parents. They would always look at in in an "oh, that's cute" manner, and all but pat me on the head. I eventually stopped showing them my work.

Since then, I haven't worked up the courage to show my work to anyone. I've never really had friends that read, though, so that's part of it. I know that one of these days I'm going to need to find someone to show it to, or else I'll never get thick enough skin.

Jennasis
05-21-2009, 04:22 PM
Hahaha great story:
My first short story I wrote, I handed to my mentor with pride.
It was returned to me without any comments.....

with a match taped to it.


(for the clueless: the match was so I could burn it)

Nice, huh?
But it truly did suck... it was entitled "the 8th princess" and that should say enough, really.

Reminds me of the movie "Funny Farm". Chevy Chase gives his MS to his wife to read as an anniversary gift and insists she read it right then and there...while he watches. After she's done, she looks up with tears in her eyes and declares "burn it."

barbilarry
05-21-2009, 06:11 PM
I shared on the syw forum this weekend, for the third time. I requested on the third critt, a tough critter re-crit it. It was not pretty! For three days I was devastated. On the fourth day I got it out of the files and started re-writing, using her crit. It is much better and more in line with the time in history the novel was set in. That being said, I then put it back in the file. Will let it cook for a while and work on every part that was weak. The point to this is syw is a wonderful learning tool because it is so personal. You take more from that than a hundred writing classes. The most important thing I learned. Do not, I repeat do not, post a first draft unless you can handle the feedback and take the suggestions and everything and learn the lesson. To answer you question, Yes, it is very hard to put your work out there. But your learn so much it is worth the pain and embarrassment. Good for you for doing that and good luck.
Jane

scarletpeaches
05-21-2009, 06:28 PM
I just sent tt42 what I've written of chapter twenty-four...

thethinker42
05-21-2009, 06:29 PM
I just sent tt42 what I've written of chapter twenty-four...

Folks. Seriously. You have to read this book when it's done.

*reads chapter 24...again...*

Charlie Horse
05-21-2009, 06:53 PM
I guess I was too ignorant when I first started down this path to know that my work sucked. I was willing to hand it out to anyone who would acquiesce. Now I'm a little more subdued in my approach.

SYW is a good thing but be careful, the masochistic tendencies buried deep inside you will definitely surface.

Phaeal
05-21-2009, 06:53 PM
I started handing out my writing in about fifth grade. Maybe starting so young kept me from developing that fear of exposure -- it's never bothered me, so long as I was the one who picked the reader(s).

I did live in terror of my mother discovering my youthful erotica. As all my MSS disappeared from my home desk when I went to college, I imagine Mom had herself a big old bonfire out in the backyard as soon as I was out of sight. ;)

Jennasis
05-21-2009, 07:02 PM
I started handing out my writing in about fifth grade. Maybe starting so young kept me from developing that fear of exposure -- it's never bothered me, so long as I was the one who picked the reader(s).

I did live in terror of my mother discovering my youthful erotica. As all my MSS disappeared from my home desk when I went to college, I imagine Mom had herself a big old bonfire out in the backyard as soon as I was out of sight. ;)


I warned my Dad that there would be some eventually...ahem...raciness in the story and if he'd rather skip reading that I'd understand. Probably be just as embarrassing for him as it is for me.

The Lonely One
05-21-2009, 07:04 PM
I warned my Dad that there would be some eventually...ahem...raciness in the story and if he'd rather skip reading that I'd understand. Probably be just as embarrassing for him as it is for me.

Or he'll be so engrossed in the story he'll forget who wrote it and read right through. :)

scarletpeaches
05-21-2009, 07:08 PM
NEWSFLASH: YOUR FATHER HAS HAD SEX.

The Lonely One
05-21-2009, 08:02 PM
NEWSFLASH: YOUR FATHER HAS HAD SEX.

:roll:

Jennasis
05-21-2009, 09:10 PM
NEWSFLASH: YOUR FATHER HAS HAD SEX.


LIES!! Lies I tell you!

SilverBirch
05-21-2009, 09:10 PM
Yes, I'm strying to steel myself to take that plunge too. A year or two back Mom and big brother (who's also a writer) read draft #1. I finished draft #2 last month, and I'll have them read it as soon as my stupid printer decides to work again :rant:

But the step I really need to take is venturing into the SYW boards, and after that, finding a beta.

Ugawa
05-22-2009, 01:38 AM
I've never let anyone I know read my work before. Only one of my friends knows I write and he keeps begging me to show him something, but I just can't do it. Even thinking about letting him read it now makes my heart go all jumpy with nerves.

I let him read my coursework from my A level English course, which was a short story and a monologue, and he said it was great. But I'm just scared he'll say it's good, but really be thinking, 'oh, my God. She can't write for s***.'

Maybe I'm just paranoid. Who knows. Lol.

x

lute
05-22-2009, 04:09 AM
It was a small step, I sent my Wip to my Dad. The material is right up his alley and he's a voracious reader. I made him swear to be honest...and I think this small step may be a good one. Dad will tell me what he thinks without being cruel...there'll be plenty of that down the road for sure, but for now I need constructive criticism and time to thicken my skin!

Oh wow, you sent it to your dad! That would be the last person I'd ever send my manuscripts too, haha (second to my mom)! My dad wouldn't read fiction if it could save his life, I swear. It's great that your dad is a voracious reader, though, and that you feel the story will be right up his alley. I personally think sharing your work with family is harder some random beta reader or an online/real life friend. Still scary--I get all antsy the minute I press send--but still. If my parents read my work, there would be a lot of questions. Too many for my liking. I guess that will have to wait until/if they see my name on a shelf at a bookstore, and be in for a pleasant surprise. Oops!

Anyway, congratulations! It's a very important step. Take it and run with it :)

socact
05-22-2009, 06:42 AM
I sent my mom a PG version of my WIP, and sent my sister the R version (it's not a romance, but there are some "sensual parts"). My beloved sister told my mother how utterly shocked she was by all the raciness, which I did not appreciate, and now I'm back to never sharing my work with anyone I know ever again.

I guess it's minor, but I was really upset by it. Writing is very personal - writing sex scenes is even more so. I didn't appreciate her bizarre reaction to it (she's 23 and definitely not a virgin - are sex scenes really that big a deal??). Ugh.

I'm also in a writing group and I never bring anything to share. I think they'll kick me out at some point soon...

The Lonely One
05-22-2009, 06:51 PM
Writing is very personal - writing sex scenes is even more so. I agree and disagree in the same breath. Sorry to be ambiguous it's just what I do :). I agree writing, the process from mind to page, is personal. No need to share that with anyone but yourself. But the very act of writing is an extension of your personal thoughts into a tangible format, a form of communication of the human condition. Then again, I'm 24 and I don't use my mother as a beta reader. For the most part I think it's a bad idea. She can read the final draft of anything, I'm not embarrassed by my writing. No offense to my mother, but her input is one of the last I want in the drafting process.

scarletpeaches
05-22-2009, 11:02 PM
If/when my stuff's published...well, if my dad wants to read it, that's up to him, but it would be on the understanding we never. Talk. About. It.

Blue Sky
05-23-2009, 12:23 AM
Congrats on taking the first step! How else can we know?

Wow. I don't remember the first time I let somebody read my work. I was a kid. It was fun to read some old stories and letters that Mom found and gave to me a few years ago. What a character! People used to laugh at my stuff--I loved to clown. I still write with the same underlying voice. Amazing, yet not. Still me.

My primary faithful prereader happens to be an author whose book I really enjoyed. I emailed and we ended up friends. We swap reads. Am I ever grateful. As my writing improves, I worry less about the mechanics. Everybody misses things and I love to learn. My butterflies come as I wonder whether the piece "worked" for the reader.

That's why I write, to be enjoyed.

Chasing the Horizon
05-23-2009, 05:42 AM
Sharing my work with my parents has never bothered me. Sharing it with anyone else really, really bothers me. Actually, I haven't shared it with anyone else for a really long time (read 'years'). In a perfect world I would be independently wealthy and be able to hide my books away where no-one else would ever see them. But it's not a perfect world *sigh*

Jennasis
05-25-2009, 12:57 AM
Well dad read what I sent him. For a few days I vascilated between really excited to have "done it" and eager for his thoughts to..OH-MY-GOD-WHAT-HAVE-I-DONE??

The reality is that he gave me some positive feedback, pointed out some errors, asked some questions that gave me some food for thought as far as how to proceed and making it better and best of all he said...

When he reached the end he was shocked at how quickly he got there and was disappointed that there wasn't more. He expressed that he was highly interested to see how it played out and what happens to the characters I'd created.

I BEGGED him to be tough and to really think over the next few days if he had any other thoughts that were negative since I feel we grow more from criticism than praise.

Perhaps soon I'll be brave enough to put it out there on the SYW forum.

NoelleB
05-31-2009, 11:52 AM
well dang! i want to read it... scarlet, send to me?

AuburnAssassin
05-31-2009, 04:11 PM
Wow, so much of this thread rings true.

I blithely handed over what I thought at the time was a polished draft (ha!) to a co-worker to read. I was so proud and scared at the same time. She seemed thrilled to get it. She's never said one word about it since other than "I hope to get to it soon," and that was months ago. The current incarnation bears practically zero resemblance to her version other than the names of the MC's. Part of me wants to tell her to throw it away but the other part wants to forget it ever breathed a breath of existence even for the short time it took to attach it to an email followed by a few days of waiting on pins and needles for feedback that never came.

When I was writing it, I told no one about it, kept it a secret from my family. When my husband finally figured out I was up to something he asked if he could read it when it was done and I said yes but he's not a reader and has never asked about reading it again. That was more of a trust test, in truth, and I passed so indifference reigns for the most part now.

I have 2 people reading it now. One I "kindled" it to and she's still done nothing with it. The other benefitted from my prior experiences. I send her 5 chapters at a time. She begged for chapters 6-10. My Dad read part of it because he (thinks he) "found" it on the hard drive of his PC when I visited and knew I was working on it. He was quite complimentary.

But the SYW and the rest of this site has been the Godsend I needed.

This must be the GWTW of posts by now...