Recently my writing colleague, fellow SCBWI and friend Nina Wadcock asked if anyone would be her Beta reader. I volunteered straight off. We got on well and I had every expectation it would be a good read. She accepted my offer – and then the second thoughts came fluttering in a black cloud…
Had I jumped in too soon? Who was I to offer critique – unpublished and unagented? Shouldn’t she waited for someone more experienced?
A moment of common-sense: no-one else had offered at that point. I did have some experience as well. After getting my Creative Writing MA I helped the next students as a Graduate Editorial Assistant – which I loved. I also take part in the WoMentoring Project (I am not responsible for the name) – and one of my mentees now has an agent. She was kind enough to say that my comments had been useful.
My friend Nina’s comments on ‘Wildfell’ came back quickly. I have to commend her on her speed, accuracy and effort. Truly helpful – so good at seeing the thicket not the brambles.
Blow me down – but so much echoed what my wonderful Golden Egg mentor, Nikki Marshall, had said about my other w-i-p ‘Stonespeaker’. I had thought I could learn to do it all by myself for this next one.
All her hard work made me reconsider. I had thought to enter a revised version of ‘Wildfell’ for the Times/Chicken House competition this year. Looking at the amount of radical changes I still need to make – or at least think through carefully – I have declined. If nothing else, she had saved me £15 + p&p.
All the above confirms my hankering after the Golden Egg Academy Editor’s Course. I need this for two reasons:
- to better the editing of my own work
- to improve the quality of my help to others – it’s one thing to be supportive, but even better to be informed
I cannot really lose – and I may gain another strand to my literary life.
To finish – a quotation via the lovely Nina that I couldn’t resist:
One of my friends who is also a writer said there is nothing more scary than letting someone read your work and, given the choice, would feel less exposed streaking round Headingly!