You Might Not Like It

In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Re-springing Your Step.”

I’d typed the last words to my first novel.

It was done, and I sat, in a state of amazement that after all these years of good intentions, false starts, and distractions, the effort had finally paid off, and it was finished.

It felt good; in fact, it felt great.

“Send it to us,” some of my friends said. “What’s it about?”

“It’s a fantasy novel,” I said. “You might not like it.”

“Naw, man. Go ahead and send it to my email, I’ll check it out. So proud of you, dude!”

And so I sent it out to my friends, eager to hear their response.

One week. Two weeks. A follow up email from me. “Hey guys, it’s been a cupla weeks. How ya likin it?”

Crickets.

Another two weeks, another email. More crickets.

“I’ll read it,” a young man I worked with said. “Not sure you’d like it,” I said. “It’s a fantasy novel.”

“Well, I’ll be honest, Alfred. I’m not much of a reader, but if you send it to me, I’ll read it and tell you what I think.”

Why not?

He gave me his email, and I sent it.

He kept me apprised of his progress, what he liked, what he wasn’t sure about, what was I thinking when I wrote this. It was good so far, he was enjoying it. He could see the descriptions in his mind. He was reading it in the email app on his phone during downtime and lunch. He read it on the weekends.

And then he told me something that sent me to the moon and around it several times:

“I finished it, and I’m looking forward to the second part.”

In that moment, if no one else ever read it, I considered myself a writer.

I got an admitted, self -confessed non-reader to finish my first novel, and he remains, to this day, the first of two who have the unpublished manuscript in their possession.

It was more validation to me than if all my friends had read it and offered their thoughts and opinions.

I was (emotionally) high for a week. I shared it on my fb status, I called my best friend, (a published author, whose book actually contains a line I gave him, but he didn’t pay me. Some friend, huh?) I told my sister.

They congratulated me, they understood what I meant, but they didn’t, well, couldn’t feel the elation that came with hearing those words.

A non-reader who doesn’t read fantasy enjoyed my work, told me to let him know when it was out so he could order it, and was looking forward to reading the second part. And he will order it, because he’s kept his word to me all along.

If that doesn’t put a re-spring in your step, I don’t know what would.

Author: smithaw50

I live in NJ. Concentrating now on a getting a full time writing career started. Glad you could be with me on the journey. Ready? Here we go...

10 thoughts on “You Might Not Like It”

  1. To be a writer, “you have to know how to accept rejection and reject acceptance.”—Ray Bradbury.  (Especially with fantasy—some people just don’t exercise their—or have an—imagination.)

    This post is another that goes beyond the prompt, and enters the kindness of strangers.
    Good luck on getting published!

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  2. Congrats on finishing your novel! I’m still halfway through my first novel.
    I followed a different strategy here. Well, partly cause I tend to procrastinate due to having very low energy levels during the dark winter months in Finland (3-4 hours of daylight, if even that) and partly the need for feedback to continue writing. Not just the positive feedback to give me more energy, but also if I’m screwing up stuff, I’d like to know in the very early stages. If my prose is boring or my dialogues are not engaging the reader, I want to know so I can fix it early on, before writing 90k words.

    What I did was recruiting fantasy loving friends and acquaintances as alpha readers. It’s very difficult to get people to read if you send them the whole novel. Way, way easier if you send chapter by chapter. I have sent out a few of my chapters to a bunch of people, two of which have degrees in English literature, so they pointed out some issues and I was able to fix it before it became too hard to fix (much easier to fix 2 chapters than an entire novel)

    People got really hooked on the story and demand the next chapter, so I can’t procrastinate or take a break. They ask questions and point out to details. They let me know which characters they like. This is really great, that a few people are actually reading it and are curious. I managed to recruit even a couple of non-fantasy readers who got really interested in the story.

    If you want more people to beta-read, try sending the first chapter only, people are a lot less likely to throw it on the back burner and procrastinate on reading if it’s just a few pages (you can count me in if you want beta readers, btw)

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    1. Thanks so much for the feedback. Yes, in my eagerness I perhaps overloaded them, but I’m the type of person who does what they say they will; if I warn you, and you insist you will follow through, I’ll commit, expecting that to happen. If I tell someone I’m going to read their work, I do. All of it. Then too, I had to learn to compartmentalize: I have friends who are musicians, friends from childhood, new friends in my new community, but I realized I have only one friend who’s a writer, (a poet), (and he bailed on reading it too, and I did send it to him in chapters). so I separated my writing altogether from my friends, and no longer tell them anything about it; that way they don’t feel burdened, and I don’t feel rejected. They meant well, and like I said, I was overeager, since it was my first.

      As for beta readers, I’ve heard of them, but was never in a position to need any until now, so I’m not quite clear as to what they do; From what you wrote, it sounds like pre-editing. Could you clarify?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Oh, most of my friends are gamer geeks who read fantasy fiction, but I have a few close friends who don’t read anything so they just know I am writing a book. I didn’t offer to show it to them. More than half of the fantasy/gamer geeks asked for it themselves, and the others got interested when I dropped some interesting info about the world. But I didn’t even bother to offer chapters to the types who don’t read fantasy fiction or don’t read at all.

        Beta readers are the critique readers who help ironing out the kinks before you get it professionally edited. I found a few such people, who are waiting for me to finish the manuscript. Alpha readers are those who start reading before the book is finished, chapter by chapter, as the chapters get written. I have a few of those, too.

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  3. Congratulations! Isn’t it funny how we often struggle with calling ourselves writers until something definitive happens or we get some outside approval? Why is that? I do the same thing.

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  4. I am so happy for you! That would definitely put a spring in my step. I read something once that I replay in my mind when I start being critical of myself.
    “I write, so I am a writer.”
    So glad to have stumbled upon your blog!
    Happy Writing!

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    1. Thank you so much for the encouragement! Yes, I must remember that quote. What was so cool about it was that in the process he did all the stuff I thought my friends would do: feedback, questions, etc. Just goes to show…Happy writing to you as well!

      Liked by 1 person

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