I recently asked one of my closest friends to read my novel, The Curse of the Carberrys, and tell me what she thought.
This is always a nerve-wracking experience. Here is a snapshot of what my brain does when I give one of my friends a copy of something I've written:
What if they hate it?
I really respect this person - what if, after reading my writing, they no longer respect me?
What if they think I really believe the things that my characters believe?
What if there's something in there that they find offensive? What if
I've accidentally used an outdated term that's no longer politically
What if they find out I am secretly unable to spell necessary and occasion? (Ooops, guess that secret is out now)
What if they hate my font?
What if they think the villain character is based on them?
What if they end our friendship with the words 'Ellen, I could never be friends with someone who wrote this crap!'?
The head of a writer is not a place where you want to build a summer-home, is what I'm saying.
Anyway, to date none of my friends have dumped me for bad writing, which is comforting (although I'm sure some have been tempted).
Just before Christmas, a friend who read my novel some months ago finally got a chance to talk with me about it. She lives overseas so we don't meet often.
'I enjoyed it,' she said, 'but it reminded me of you a lot. I had to stop reading it a few times because it was making me miss you.'
I was incredibly happy with this comment. They say you need to write the book of your heart, the book you most want to read, and for me The Curse of the Carberrys is that book (for the moment - I'm sure there will be others). It feels good to know that I have managed to write something that has something of me in it, that isn't just a rehash of plots pulled from TV Tropes and characters borrowed from strangers at the bus stop. It's good to know that I managed to put myself into the book.
It makes facing the edits a little less daunting!
PS - just to prove that real life isn't a fairytale, I have to add that my friend also told me that a particularly pivotal plot moment just didn't work for her and explained why in detail. She was absolutely right- and thankfully it's an easy fix.