I’m having a really hard time keeping first readers for my novel. I’m on my fourth one. I know it’s nothing I’m doing, but I must say it’s doing nothing for my anxiety level (previously documented; recap: HIGH) to have shown my work – my heart and soul – to several people and then have them just fade out of my life…with my work in their possession.
The first one was my partner. I love her dearly, and I’m perfectly happy to continue to share my work with her; at the very least to let her know what I’m working on. However, she generally has no response other than, “Okay.” I don’t take it personally anymore – that’s just how she is. Very reserved. But it isn’t what I need from a first reader. I love her with everything I am, but that doesn’t mean she’s the target audience for this work, or that she can be my first reader.
So I turned to a (former) friend who also happens to teach college English. But that friendship has crashed and burned for the final time in the 30 years that we’ve known each other. For crying out loud, stop hitting on my partner! If you can’t show my relationship respect, then you’re not showing me respect, and I can’t imagine you’re going to treat my writing with any respect, either.
Third was my therapist. Totally unfair of me to use her services like that, I thought, but she was okay with it. But in the past three months, I’ve heard nothing from her on it. As she’s busy and doing therapist-things, I’m not going to complain or push about it. But I was also not getting what I needed, and in a timely manner. I need solid feedback from a reader’s perspective, not analyzing my work for how I’m feeling and mining it for topics for therapy sessions. More fool me for thinking that this would work.
Now I’m on my fourth one (thank you, so much! <3). I really think that, if she likes the opening chapter I sent, this could work. It will also help with accountability to have someone who wants to read it, wants to see the next installment, and wants to help me make it better.
So: fourth time’s the charm!