What I received justified the anxiety, and to a lesser extent, the hope. What I received was frustrating, encouraging, and confusing. So I turned to some inspirational quotes to put it all into perspective.
What was frustrating were some of the negative comments. Some beta readers could use a lesson in tact. Honesty is one thing, rudeness another.
Life is like photography. You need the negatives to develop. Unknown
So looking at some of the negatives, I tried to see what kernel of truth was there, and what I could learn from it, how I could develop better as a writer.
Then there were those comments I didn’t agree with.
I have never in my life learned anything from any man who agreed with me. Dudley Field Malon
I thought about why I didn’t agree. Interestingly, one of the beta readers was rather eloquent on what she saw as a major shortcoming in my novel. Then I read her manuscript. She made the same “error,” if you can call it that, and to a much greater degree. But the process of thinking it through helped me see some things that could be improved.
So it’s back to the keyboard, for what seems like the thousandth pass through my manuscript.
I haven’t failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. Thomas Edison
Each pass makes the story tighter, the theme stronger, the characters more alive. But sometimes I’m feeling a little worn out. I can feel that I’m headed in the right direction, but sometimes progress grinds to a halt.
Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. Will Rogers
OK, so I’ll keep pressing on. I’ll tinker with this scene, change the point of view, alter the setting or the outcome. And think. Do I like this version better, or the original?
All life is an experiment. The more experiments you make, the better. Ralph Waldo Emerson
Sometimes it is the third or fourth version is the one that I know is what needs to stand. It will be the scene the readers remember, or a key moment that drives the plot or ramps up the tension.
I’m getting so much more joy out of the creative process, because I’m seeing the results of my work.
Challenges are what make life interesting and overcoming them is what makes life meaningful. Joshua J. Marine
I wouldn’t be as excited about the book had it just flowed from my mind to the paper in one easy draft.
So as I reflect on the conflicting comments, I think back to the quote I find most inspirational of all. It’s all about the truth I want to convey by the book, and what will make it as superb as I can. The beta readers can only shed a little light on the matter, giving me their opinions as a tiny sample of the reading public. I need not let myself be paralyzed by negative comments or confusion over what to change. What I need to do is to keep on my writing journey, and take the next bend in the road to see where it leads me.
You will know the truth, and the truth will set you free. Jesus