I knew it was time to start trying for the second baby when I was consumed with envy every time I saw a pregnant woman. I didn’t have normal nice “ah, look, isn’t that lovely” feelings about other people’s bumps. I had indignant, self-righteous “I could do that too, you know” feelings instead. “I’d be just as pregnant as she was, if I’d started four months earlier” feelings. There was nothing else for it but to take the plunge and throw away the condoms.
It’s sort of the same with books. Lately, every now and then, it turns out someone I know has written a book. And instead of being admiring in a detached way, the way I am when a friend paints a beautiful picture or has a business success, I take it as a personal affront because I have not (yet) done this. But I totally could if I wanted. Maybe.
It’s time to put my money (that is, my pride) where my mouth is and find out.
Right now, there are seven ten-year-old girls in Ireland who are reading words I put on a page. Lots of pages. They are my team of beta readers, and I love them very much, though if they don’t like the book they’ll have to be replaced by some others. Of course, I can’t expect to please all of the people all of the time, and I’m perfectly fine with the idea that some of them just won’t love it (sob) but I would be indescribably delighted if some others of them did. They don’t know me, so they have no reason to want to please me, so I’m hoping their feedback will be unvarnished in its candour.
I haven’t even asked more than a couple of my friends to read it, because much as I value their input, they’re not the target audience. If the ten-year-old girls, generally speaking, are not positive, then I need to go back to the drawing board.
I’m only telling you this because so far, reports are good. But anything can happen between the start of a book and the end of it, in terms of reader experience. It can fail to hold your interest. It can get tedious, or annoying, or go in a direction you weren’t expecting and don’t like. Or everything can be going along decently until the end, when you might feel cheated, or disappointed, or hoodwinked, or bamboozled. It might fail to tie up loose ends. It might stop short, or drag on too long. It might just leave you with a nasty taste in your mouth for a reason that you can’t quite articulate.
But on the whole, I’d prefer any of those complaints to a general sort of “just didn’t really get into it” response. I can fix the story. But my writing is my writing, and sending that out into the big wide world, even to seven ten-year-olds I don’t know, is my biggest leap of faith right there.
So I’ll let you know how that goes.