But...I haven't written anything in quite awhile. I took my honking big manuscript in a box and worked on it a bit on the way down but not on the way back. My desk is a cluttery mess and I have all sorts of annoying little tasks to attend to - like harass the tenants for rent, organize winter tires, get my health insurance cover up the garden beds with mulched leaves and lovely chicken poo shavings. And I suppose I should think about Christmas presents only I've got it down to quite a few - books for the grandchildren and stockings for the teenagers who all need money for various big projects they're involved with (trip to New York with music students for step-dot, driver's ed for step-son). Us adults don't do much - just buy extra food - so no big deal really. We'll get a tree just before Christmas - maybe on my birthday. My birthday (a week from this Tuesday) we'll take the grand-kids and my son to my church. We Buddhists have a secular holiday called Children's Day which usually lands on my birthday (solstice) and it is quite lovely with a little play and nice music and loads of candles. Because it is my birthday I can force my family to go so that works out well! My step-dot is going to be part of the colour-guard (flags are involved) so she'd be there anyway.
So - just about two weeks to Christmas and what else is on the go - I have clients to see - no other work - but I would like to get a fair bit done on the novel which leads us to this weeks 'tips from the tops' - let me go cruising my fave books...
I was just speaking to my friend, Molly, on the phone. She was asking me how the books are coming and then she said - well - you should give your draft to the Babes to read. Oh no...I said. I love the Babes - there aren't five nicer broads around but they aren't my first readers. So who is? When I finished my other book (Feckless - the shelved one) I did give it to a number of people but I remember one of my friends thought she'd line edit it and so on....that can be the kiss of death for me. I want very certain things addressed by my first readers but I don't want to hear about punctuation. I'll pay someone to look at that part (or trade my friend Gwen services for it!) I want first readers to tell me when they felt sleepy and when they couldn't put it down and to ask me about any plot holes they find so I can fill them. I want to know if they laughed and cried or cried til they laughed or laughed til they cried. Mainly I want them to tell me if it works or not. And I am willing to listen but I definitely need to choose carefully who gets to read this. I have three people I'll give it to - one is my sister, and two are very close friends. All are women. Sweet Patootie will read it but I'd rather he did it when I'm really ready to send it out. I have our relationship to think of!
Tips from the Top: #2
Top: Anne Lamotte
Book: Bird by Bird
Tip: from the chapter - 'Someone to Read Your Draft':
"I know what a painful feeling it is when you've been working on something forever, and it feels done, and you give your story to someone you hope will validate this and that person tells you it still needs more work. You have to, at this point, question your assessment of this person's character and, if he or she is not a spouse or a lifelong friend, decide whether or not you want them in your life at all. Mostly I think an appropriate first reaction is to think that you don't. but in a little while it may strike you as a small miracle that you have someone in your life, whose taste you admire (after all, this person loves you and your work), who will tell you the truth and help you stay on the straight and narrow, or find your way back to it if you are lost."
My sense of it: Just do it - someone has to read it sometime unless you wrote it for the shelf. Take tip #1 (feel) and check to see which folks in your life are your first readers then hand it over and wait with delight and some trepidation for their feedback. If they're mean - ditch them- but otherwise just listen and you'll know which things to change and which things to keep the same by applying tip #1 to the feedback. Hurrah!
I'm sending out mine today to my three readers (get ready guys!)
me, Jude and Don - must be Jude's birthday though the tag says it is mine...thanks Jude - I love it!