Wednesday, November 02, 2005

The Value of Trusted Readers

One of the most important support systems any writer at any level of the business can have is a group of Trusted Readers. These people are your anchor, your cornerstone, your reality check.

What do Trusted Readers do?

They are the people who take a look at your work before you burn bridges and tell you, honestly, where it works and where it doesn’t.

A Trusted Reader:

--Is not related to you.

--Is not involved with you romantically or sexually.

--Has no agenda in regard to your career other than desiring and believing in your writing integrity.

--Is honest with you, in both criticism and praise.

--Is constructive, not cruel.

--Does not have to be another writer, but MUST be someone who loves to read.

--Understands the quirks of your work – both the little eccentricities that enhance it and the bad habits you fall into. Your Trusted Reader can catch you out in a way that does not make you feel as though you’ve failed or disappointed anyone – the Trusted Reader encourages you to give it another go and fix what doesn’t work. And applauds what does work.

As writers, far too often we show a first draft to someone we trust in order to get positive feedback. While this is an important part of the process for some, that is not where you use your Trusted Readers. Your Trusted Readers are the two or three people who get the last look at the work before you send it to an agent/editor/publisher. It is a sign of respect to them and to your regard for them that you show them as polished a piece as you can. Then, and only then, can they truly respond in their capacity as Trusted Reader.

Writers always want their families and partners to support their writing; indeed, if a writer is involved with someone unsupportive, the writer needs to weigh the need to write against the relationship, because it is rare that they will be able to sustain each other. Author and coach Eric Maisel states it well in his book A Writer’s Paris: “There are some simple tests to determine the essential soundness of an intimate relationship, and one is to ask whether each partner actively supports the other’s dream of recognition. Anyone who shares a bed with you ought to support your efforts to write and get published. If he doesn’t, he is failing you; and that failure may bite hard.” (p. 82).

Yet even the most loving, supportive, well-intentioned partner cannot serve the same purpose as a Trusted Reader. Can you have a writing career without one or more Trusted Readers? Of course. Everyone’s process is different, and every time we create, we have to reinvent the wheel. But a Trusted Reader smoothes the way, offering support, encouragement, and keeping your work on track. A Trusted Reader serves the purpose of clergy in the Church of Creativity. The Trusted Reader is a valuable necessity. Choose yours sparingly and wisely, and you will have a foundation for a lifetime of work.


At 8:38 AM, Blogger Eileen said...

I'm incredibly fortunate to have a "Trusted Reader" in my life. She IS a valuable necessity to me, indeed. I am even able to send her my daily "raw" NaNoWriMo pages to her as a witness to the work, so to speak and for her opinion as to if I'm on the right track, or if I've jumped the rails.


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