As we all know, writing is such an isolated experience. The tippy tappy of keys day after day after night after night alone at your desk in your office/bedroom/dining room. Days, months, years pass until finally you emerge, a little battered and bruised, but with a hearty first draft, or at least something that appears to have a beginning, middle and end.
And now it's time to usher your pal, your oeuvre, out into the world to see if it's got legs.
Here's who I've turned it in to in the past before completing the process:
The Cousin in Canada - she herself tinkers with words, and has proven to be an astute reader, bringing with her that quirky Canadian sensibility that I always hope for my novels to embody. She asks the hard questions, points out the inconsistencies and then we spend the rest of the time on family gossip.
The Friend From That Workshop You Took Years Ago - This friend is a 'bigger picture' reader, addressing things like theme and structure. You appreciate his point-of-view and usually meet over multiple cups of coffee as he summarizes your novel and the elements that did or didn't work.
The Mother - The Mother is a surprising choice, but since The Father is also a writer, The Mother has a keen editorial eye - has been at it for years with The Father's work - and knows grammar like nobody's business. When I hand in my work to her I pretend there are no sex scenes, and when she returns my book, those sex scenes are always grammatically correct.
But this time I used a source I've never used before:
The Freelance Editor - Oh, this was a wise investment. I heard about her through a friend and was so impressed with the notes she'd given to that friend that I hired her on the spot. It was a financial sacrifice - and God love her she allowed me a payment plan - but it was worth every penny. Her prescient notes were able to articulate what I knew was wrong or missing or off. She was as professional as she was friendly and I felt my story benefitted greatly because of her.
Lastly, I'd like to pay my respects to a former writing teacher who took his own life earlier this month. Les Plesko taught through UCLA Extension where I workshopped my first novel, "Swimming Upstream, Slowly." He was a generous teacher, a giving soul, who made sure you perfected each paragraph, sentence and word. RIP Les. Thank you for caring.
Melissa Clark lives in Los Angeles. You can follow her on her blog, Connections Clark. Her second novel Imperfect is on kindle sale for 2.99. 2.99 are you out of your mind?