Friday, January 21, 2011

Letting Your Family Read Your Work

Over at the The Graceful Doe's Blog she did a post on Why You Shouldn't Ask Your Spouse's Opinion. I've seen this kind of advice before: don't let your family read your manuscript. I understand the reasoning; family members will have a biased opinion for their loved ones, they are excited to see what you've worked so hard on, and they don't want to hurt your feelings.

Well, that's most families.

My oldest (teen) daughter has always been an avid reader. She is excellent with grammar and punctuation, and can offer an in-depth review of the books she's read. Even though I was working with a critique partner, I really wanted a teen to read my young adult novel, and I thought she could be quite handy to have in my corner. I say could, with a grain of salt and a dash of hope, because she can also be quite critical.

In fact, for over a year she downright refused to read it.

At first when I asked, she said s didn't want to because she didn't think I would even finish writing it.

Fair enough.

When I asked her to read my completed and revised manuscript, she quite honestly replied, "I don't think I'm going to like it."

Okay, I know that was harsh. Please don't judge her. Trust me, I'm judging her enough for all of us. Just kidding. We really do have a wonderful relationship.

Then one day she said if I wanted to download it onto her Nook, she would read it. I casually said, "Okay, whatev."

I had to force myself to leave her alone, and not stare over her shoulder. I thought I would literally crawl out of my skin, waiting for her to finish.

Luckily, she is a fast reader.

Thankfully, she couldn't put it down.

But then the brat my lovely daughter didn't say anything. I tried not to push her, coolly asking, "So ... uh, what'd ya think?"

She flashed me a funny smile and sighed. I immediately realized what was going on -- she doesn't like to admit when she's wrong. I kept a straight face and waited. Finally, she said, "It's awesome."

That honestly is a moment I will never forget. It meant so much to me. As did her excitement as she discussed a certain character and that characters conclusion.

So, that's my story. Do you have a story about sharing your work with family?

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Therapy & Psychics

As a teen, writing helped me deal with my emotions. When my kids were little, I had fun writing and illustrating a couple of children’s books. I thought about trying to get them published, but I mostly wrote for myself. Several years passed, I didn’t have a lot of time for writing. Until three years ago...

I was working as a Dental Assistant. I enjoyed my job, and the people I worked with. One day I woke up and my pinky hurt. Yeah, I said pinky. Hold on. There’s more to the story. I couldn’t bend my finger; it felt like I had jammed it, although I couldn’t recall anything happening.

Then the next morning I woke up and my whole hand hurt, and I couldn’t hold or grip anything – not good when I’m handling a sharp object over the patient’s face. Don’t worry, I didn’t hurt anyone. In the days to follow, the pain spread to different parts of my body and I began to worry. I saw my doctor, and the worry changed to frustrated concern as we began the testing process.

For a while it was believed to be Lupus, but upon further testing the doctors determined it to be Fibromyalgia; which I mention, because apparently that’s common. Fibromyalgia is not the end of the world, but it does take some getting used to: the pain, depression, and exhaustion. The fact that I couldn’t preform my job added to my problems. I needed time, so I took a leave of absence.

Suddenly I felt OLD (I should mention I had just turned forty). I felt like I hadn’t done anything with my life, and now it was over. So I used my time off to write and reflect. Who knew that one would turn out to be the answer to the other? But it was. I wanted to write, like a whole novel. And I wanted it to be young adult, which I’d never done. Sadly, my family thought I was just going through a phase. So at first I didn’t feel whole lot of support or understanding.

I struggled a little at first. Then I fell in love with the process it, and my story. I found writing to be therapeutic. Getting lost in words. Creating worlds. I wasn’t in pain when I was writing. I also found that I was good at it. Like I said, that was three years ago; I guess I’m not going back to work. But on the upside, I completed my first novel and got the family support that I needed.

Now, as many of you know, I am working towards publication. And because of what a psychic said, I am confident … well, guardedly confident, that I will be published one day. Don’t laugh. Those guys are amazing. Well, I imagine that they are amazing. I didn’t personally see the psychic, my sister did. Never mind, you can laugh.