Thursday, November 8, 2012

Beta Insecurity

Write what scares you.
Write the story only you can write.
Write what you'd want to read.

Okay. All these pieces of advice are well and good while a writer is holed up in his or her cave, coming up with stories that amuse him- or herself. Undeniably, the advice makes for good fiction.'s the really scary part: asking colleagues and/or people close to you to read when the time comes to gather feedback. Strangers are easy--if they don't like your work, everyone has different taste, so it's a cinch to say Oh, well and move on. But when it comes to people whose opinions you care about? Not so simple.

Logically, I know I must be a decent writer: I have an awesome agent, I'm writing an ebook for a company I love, and several friends whose writing I admire are still willing to trade reads with me. Despite all that, the insecurity persists. Because what if the new beta-readers hate my stuff? What if they think I'm a sick-minded, horrible person after reading my stories? What if they think my prose is unprofessional and sophomoric? I've never pretended to be a high-brow writer--I only want to tell engaging stories I think people want to hear. But still. There's a nagging dread left over from being rejected so many times along the journey that's near impossible to shake.

That said, the silence while someone reads is the worst. I'm tempted to ask for mid-read opinions, but that would be annoying. Anyone who betas is doing you a huge favor, so it's better to stress for awhile than make yourself a pest. That's what I keep telling myself, anyway.

Just wish I didn't feel so naked.


Leslie S. Rose said...

Holy Cow, you hit the nail on the head. I get completely nauseous when I send my MS out to betas. As a beta reader myself, I try to send an encouraging email along the way so the wall of silence isn't so scary.

Ara Burklund said...

Thanks, Leslie! Glad I'm not the only one. That's so sweet of you to send email while you're reading! I try to do the same thing unless I'm reading something super short.