When we write something that we know is good, there is nothing like the high you get from that. It’s a bit like falling in love. Suddenly, everything is wonderful. Then you let someone read it. You might even ask them to make notes or mark the areas that they feel are problematic thinking that they might find a typo here or a POV issue there, but nothing major because, as I said, you know it’s good. A week goes by and you haven’t heard from them so you call them and invite them over for coffee or wine, your choice. They arrive, carrying your manuscript and all you can think about is yanking it out of their hands but you offer them their beverage of choice and discuss your days and gossip a little. All the while, you’re sneaking glances at the envelope. Finally, you ask them what they thought. They hesitate for a moment and say, “Well….” As soon as you hear that 1 word, you know that this is not going to be the lovefest that you were expecting. They pull out the manuscript, that is now covered in red ink, and page by page they’ve dissected your precious baby. Suddenly, your awesome manuscript becomes a pile of trash that you don’t ever want to look at again. You’ve decided that it is garbage because if 1 of your closest friends felt this way, how is an agent or publisher going to feel about it? They’ll hate it. You decide that you have no talent and should just give up your dream of ever getting published. STOP! You need to analyze the situation rather than taking it at face value. 1st, is your friend even a fan of the genre in which your book is categorized? If not, get your manuscript to someone that is. For example, if someone handed me a romance novel that they’d written, all I could really do is look for typos and grammatical errors because I do not nor have I ever read romance novels so I would not be a good judge of whether the book was good or not. 2nd, look at the manuscript…did they find grammatical errors that were not actually errors? Perhaps it’s an idiom, your character speaks that way or you were making a point by using the phrases that you did. 3rd, is your friend an overly critical or negative person…are they always pointing out things that are, in their opinion, wrong? Or maybe they’re jealous? Think about the time you’ve spent together…are they envious of your creativity, your job, your car or your home? Do they feel like the whole world is against them? I’d still listen to them because they might be on point with some of their criticisms and recommendations but I’d also take everything that they say with a grain of salt while finding someone that has a more positive outlook or is completely unbiased. 4th, and most importantly, don’t stop writing because 1 or 2 people aren’t crazy about your manuscript…especially if it’s still the 1st draft with little or no editing. Keep going and prove them wrong. You have it within you to create something totally awesome so don’t let other people’s opinions get in the way of your dream. Read your writing out loud. It will let hear the rhythm and flow of your words. I recently took out my book, Rapture, to find a section for a 3-minute reading in Rhapsody of Writing this Saturday. As I was reading the words out loud that I had written 9 or 10 years ago and have looked at probably hundreds of times over the years, I found 8 ways to improve the rhythm and flow of that small passage. Keep editing and polishing your manuscript then find someone to help you with editing and revising it to make it even better than it was. Don’t give up just because you haven’t found your audience yet or because the audience you did find was overly critical. We were made to create, so sit down, write and show us your sparkle!
“The idea is to write it so that people hear it and it slides through the brain and goes straight to the heart.” ~ Maya Angelou