Monthly Status Report
This was a very scatterbrained month. Maybe I am not cut out for self-directed work. I have not gotten much done on the writing front at all, though I have spent every day doing at least some reading/analyzing of The Firm. Very minimal progress, though, and nothing of my own writing. I still have the two short stories I finished in June sitting on my table to read and revise. I also signed up to be a Municipal Liaison for NaNoWriMo, this year, which I’m excited about, and starting to learn about. Lots of new stuff, just very little actual writing.
As for food, I did much better this month than last month, but as usual, still struggling with food prep. I did get some frozen vegetables, which might help in that department, but haven’t actually used any yet since, well, it’s summer, and there are so many good fresh vegetables.
Optional Monthly Question
September 2 question – If you could choose one author, living or dead, to be your beta partner, who would it be and why?
I don’t know, honestly. I don’t think I know anyone well enough to know if they would be a good beta partner. I look more for personality traits than writing traits, to be honest. And my writing goals are very personal. My number one reason for writing is to write the stuff I want to read, but that doesn’t exist because everyone is convinced no one wants to read it, so advice on what will increase my readership based on what “everyone is reading” is not going to be at all helpful, and I could see it leading to conversations that make me look like I am not interested in improving or not willing to take advice from people who are more successful, when that’s not the issue at all. I do want to improve, I just want to improve in a way that leaves my core values and core reason for writing untouched. I think that’s probably true of most writers, but I think a lot of people are afraid to say so.
So, understanding that motivation and willing to put up with my countless “Yes, but what about . . . ?” types of responses would be at the top of my list. I don’t want to just take a suggestion that might end up messing up a different part of the story. It doesn’t mean I don’t want to solve the initial problem, it’s just that I’m not likely to take the very first suggestion I get. I want to be able to have a lot of give and take and discussion to find the very best solution, rather than just the first one.
I’m also highly sensitive. I have a post on why I think writers don’t need thick skin, because I take the metaphor to mean not letting things affect you in the first place, and I think part of what makes us good writers is the fact that we DO feel things, we ARE affected. We need to learn not to act unprofessionally based on our feelings, but to me, this is very different than not feeling it at all. So, another quality I would look for in a beta reader is someone who understands that I will probably be upset when I get their feedback, and to give me time to process it, rather than chiding me for not having “thick skin”. Granted, I tend to throw it back on myself first (“I’m a terrible writer, there’s no point in fixing this because it still won’t be any good,” etc.) rather than aimed at the critique-giver (I don’t think I’ve ever had a reaction of “You’re so stupid to not see how brilliant this is” — though I was flabbergasted once when I was told my secondary character wasn’t believable because he drove a truck, and the vehicle he drove was a Dodge Spirit, which is a sedan), but it’s something I need to get out of my system before I can look at it with a clear head, so I would want a beta willing to get that out of my system without thinking I’m a “special snowflake” who can’t take criticism.
I guess these are similar in that I don’t want to be pegged as a defensive crybaby just because I don’t immediately agree with everything they say and might specifically ask if there are any good points that make the story WORTH revising, rather than just throwing out.
I didn’t think I was going to have much to say about this topic, but I see I was wrong! Have a wonderful September, and let me know your own thoughts on finding a good beta reader, and whether you look for similar or different qualities. Thanks for reading!
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Steph W says
It’s funny, while I was brainstorming about the answer I said to my husband, “I can’t pick anyone, what if they turn out to be an asshole.” I kind of live in fear of the people I admire being truly wretched people. I am always so disappointed when I find out things about a person I liked. Like when someone talks about your favorite actor and says they are really terrible people in real life.
Yes! I was thinking the same thing, or even, well-meaning, but just not connected to what I need. I can’t tell based on what they write.
Kim Lajevardi says
Interesting take on thick skin. I look at it as having thick enough skin to allow for the slowdown of criticism, time to process as it and recognize if it has merit as it navigates through my alligator-like hide.
I think it has a lot to do with the fact that I have very little control of my expressions of emotion. So, if I start feeling a need to cry, I start crying… even if I’m not in a good place to do so. And I’ve never quite figured out how to stop doing that. I just try to run to the bathroom or in some way get out of the spotlight, but I’ve always been told that that means I need thicker skin. And I’ve never GOTTEN thicker skin, and that was a huge problem when I was a teacher (as you might imagine), but is absolutely 100% NOT a problem as a writer AND one of the reasons I love being a writer. I don’t have to have thick skin, finally! I don’t really know how I would express the same thing other than “I don’t have to worry about crying in public” and that doesn’t have the same kind of relief to it that “I don’t have to have thick skin” does — maybe because I just got so tired of everyone telling me that’s what I needed.