I remember reading a blog post by Emily Wing Smith, author of The Way He Lived, where she said how grateful she was for a particular reviewer who really “got” her book: he understood and appreciated what the book was about, what it was trying to accomplish, what it meant.
As of yesterday I “get” why Emily was so grateful for that! I’ve felt giddy and glowing and happy and hopeful and all those other dancing-around-and-smiling-too-big kind of adjectives.
Our critique group was awesome. It worked out perfectly having four writers, reading each other’s entire novels, and starting our critique discussions with the biggest things first, strengths and weaknesses jumbled together. I’ve got as many revision notes from them as I might get from an editor, and I feel so excited to implement their suggestions and make the manuscript AMAZING before I start querying agents soon.
But my giddiness yesterday and today is specifically because one member of the group — the writer I knew the least, actually — “got” what I was trying to do and loved it.
I know that I’m not writing a book that’s going to appeal to everyone. I didn’t expect all three of my group members to be ecstatic about it. But just having one person — 1/3 of the group — means everything! It means that there is an audience for my book. It means there are people who will love everything about it. It means that all these years I’ve spent learning how to be an author haven’t been wasted. It means I can write something that means something (even if I can’t articulate the feeling itself).
The other two group members were also a huge help, and I don’t mean to discount their contribution. Joel and Holly, thank you so much for all the things you pointed out! It’s so important to get feedback from both your ideal audience and those outside of the audience (who might see it more objectively).
But having one person defend my point-of-view choices, my character choices, my thematic choices, and explain to the group exactly what I was doing in exactly the way I would have explained it?
It feels like a golden ticket.
It feels like the book world saying, “Congratulations. You won over another writer. You’ve got a book worth publishing. Please proceed to the next door.”
The next door is still a few months off. Even the group member who loved it pointed out issues I need to address. I’ve got all those revision notes to work through before I can approach agents.
But I understand why Emily was so excited about that review of hers.
Having someone “get” it is huge.