Ninja Readers

17 May

Ah, the sweet sound of applause in your head. The euphoric feeling that settles around you like a warm, comfortable blanket. The proud grin that you can’t seem to shake, even when you walk your dog and pick up his doodoo. No, nothing can stop you from feeling on top of the world when you’ve typed THE END at the end of your story. It felt like a very long labour and you’re both sad and elated. Sad that your precious baby has to face the harsh world on its own and elated that you’ve managed to drag a whole story out of your head and onto your laptop screen.

And so you call all arms, even though you have all your arms, and request some ninja readers (beta-readers, but my term sounds cooler) to read your final version and comment. With flushed cheeks and trembling fingers you send out your story and hope for the best. Before, you thought the hard part was over, but this is the hard part. It’s FREAKING scary. I always realised it would be scary, but I never thought I’d compare it to jumping out of a plane with no parachute. And I’m afraid of heights.

Still, I’ve been diligent, worked hard and have been well prepared for this battle. An MA in Creative Writing has taught me how to deal with criticism. As well as, you know, write creatively. But that was in the safety of a loving classroom as opposed to the jungle out there. Writing is art and art is personal. The rules change, you change them, or someone else. Someone will love your work, someone will hate it. We’re all different and that’s okay. All I know is that this book wouldn’t have been there if it wasn’t for me and that means nobody could have written it but me. Somehow, that’s comforting. It helps that so far I’ve heard good things from my ninja readers (and only one person talked to me like I was a four-year-old). No fundamental mistakes, only a few differences of opinions, but that’s why you need to sort out for yourself if what someone tells you is their opinion or a structural error on your part. I guess I just have to go for it and have a little faith in myself. A literary agent was already interested in the idea and that’s a good start, now I just have to use my fear to push me forward, instead of hold me back, even if it’s right over the edge of the cliff, without knowing how deep it is and if there is a giant bouncing house at the bottom. Just in case, I’m taking my shoes off.

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