Monday, October 21, 2013

Let Your Mother Look Over Your Shoulder

by Samantha Wilde

People will tell you not to let your mother look over your shoulder while you write. In my case, she is my first reader. If my mama ain't read it, ain't nobody read it.


Of course, having a New York Times bestselling novelist of twenty-three books and counting does have an effect on a person. Still I wonder sometimes how I got into the situation of having Nancy Thayer as my first reader. My other best reader is my best friend, an artist and editor, not a novelist, who I count on to take a penetrating look at my work.

As far as I'm concerned, only one quality matters in a critique partner: honesty.

My mother and my best friend are the kind of women who will tell you if the homemade chocolate chip cookies you just baked taste terrible. I don't necessarily want to hear that, but there's nothing I want to hear more when it comes to my work than the truth. If you want to expose your writing to another person, you must feel that they will speak the truth in love to you. That "in love" part matters because honesty can be brutal, but if it's delivered with a compassionate hand, it can guide and liberate your work.

Everything I write is amazing for this first ten minutes. After that, I really do want to know if it can survive in the big, bad world. For that, a set of eyes and an truthful reader are what I need. All too often readers can want approval or be afraid of hurting someone's feelings or simply not have a discerning gaze. To read purposefully and offer criticism usefully, we have to stick to our truth and bring it with total humility to a writer's desk. It's always an honor to be asked; we honor one another when we live up to the task.

So can your mother look over your shoulder while you write? Maybe she's the best critic a girl can have. That is, if she can say it kindly and truly.

Here we are having fun with the writing life. Enjoy!

Samantha Wilde is the author of I'll Take What She Has and This Little Mommy Stayed Home. She's the at-home mother of three young children, a minister, and a yoga teacher. She always wants to be liked on Facebook and who can blame her?


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  2. Cool post. You're lucky to have her and she's lucky to have you!

  3. Gosh! I loved this. So cute. Y'all seem to have such a sweet relationship.