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One of my favourite (and best) beta readers was my dear Aunt Norma. Now that she’s gone I’ve been thinking back to all the reading she did for me, and remembering her insight and tact, her encouragement and wisdom. Beta reading isn’t easy, either for the writer or for the reader.
I’ve drawn from the Archives again, from January 2009, for today’s post.
One snowy Sunday afternoon as wind-driven snow whipped over the backyard peaks and valleys, fashioning them into anonymous mounds, I settled in by the fireplace. It was time to begin reviewing notes made by the long-suffering people who agreed to be beta readers of my current novel.
Beta reading is a necessary tool in the path to publication but I find it nerve-wracking. This is the point when a story first goes public — someone other than me gets to probe my creation, poke into its structure and pass judgment on its credibility and readability. I want and need honesty from the readers, but I cringe at what their opinions might reveal about my storytelling effort.
Few of my readers are impartial. Family members and friends have a built-in bias — they are predisposed to a positive response. More experienced critique partners can sometimes be the opposite, nitpicking to the extreme as they identify all the ways in which the story isn’t told as they think it should be. I’m not obligated to accept any of the criticisms or suggestions, but I value every one. Once the story is published (notice my positive attitude here!), I may never know what the majority of readers think of it, so getting feedback now is desirable.
But still, there is a small chill of uncertainty within me. I suspect it belongs to the icy heart of my I.C. (Inner Critic) as she circles close by, subtly trying to cool my flame of hope for the success of this story. Is it really the best it can be? Is there even a market for it?
As the evening begins to descend, the outdoor lights come on for one last pre-Epiphany sparkle and I put aside my pen and the comment sheets. I’m choosing to spend the rest of the evening curled up with a book… mine.
I wonder, can I be one of my own beta readers?
Our family circle is smaller now, but heaven is brighter because of the arrival of my Aunt Norma.
May 9, 1923 – January 8, 2015
She was a remarkable woman. I’ve posted about her and some of her achievements before…
The month after her husband died, she established a Flickr account, and over the past ten years she has posted over 3000 images and developed precious cyber friendships in many countries around the world. When the publication of her book became a possibility three years ago, she undertook blogging. Today I posted a last message for her at ‘Noni Grace: Random Thoughts and Reminiscing‘, and her son also posted an announcement on her Flickr page, Norma/Nonie Vogue.
We’re richer for her presence in our lives; we’re saddened by the loss; we’re comforted by wonderful memories of her strength, her life and her faith.
“Then the way you live
will always honour and please the Lord,
and your lives will produce every kind of good fruit.
All the while, you will grow
as you learn to know God better and better.”
[Colossians 1:10, NLT]
“For he loves us with unfailing love;
the Lord’s faithfulness endures forever.
Praise the Lord!”
[Psalm 117:2, NLT]
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