I’ve been attending a writing course for the past two months. I signed up primarily to give myself the kick up the proverbial backside and resume writing the first draft. It’s worked. I’m two chapters off the midway point and expect to be there sometime by the end of this week (I have BTW fallen far short of my original goal – to be finished the first draft by the end of March – but hey! It’s all a journey right?).
Part of the course requirements are to submit pieces that we are working on for criticism in class. It was only when I had to submit my first piece at the end of January did I realise that no one had read so much as the first line of my novel yet. In fact, I hadn’t even mentioned to Mr. Novelprojectchronicles that I had embarked on another novel project.
It was enlightening. I had stopped talking about it and just got on with the writing.
However, signing up to the writing course I realised a downside to not letting on that you’ve been writing a novel. Books are written to be read and, at some point in the not too distant future, someone is going to have to read it. So perhaps it’s important for all writers that they reflect, occasionally, on who that someone should be.
I’m reluctant to ever let friends and family read my writing since I’m aware that they love me (as I do them) and, in the hope of sparing my feelings, are unlikely to pass criticism on my work. So I cannot trust their judgement. Of course some people may have other writerly friends who understand this problem and will be more than willing to take off the fedora of friendship and don the cap of criticism in order to be truly helpful.
For me, submitting my work to my writing class and allowing the group to tear apart my work was the best thing for it. They were wonderful in their honesty. Some things worked. Others didn’t. Suggestions were made for how I could improve in the second draft. Most important, I got over the fear of how my work would be received. I’ve started to view the first draft like a lump of marble that I’ve been chipping a way at for the past number of months. It is not yet a thing of beauty but the general outline is there. It is coarse and unformed but it’s getting there. And it feels good.
So how about you? Who reads your work? Do you find it useful to offer people passages or would you prefer a professional to read it only once it is done?
Let me know in the comments.