Monday, April 19, 2010

Listening to Your Draft Readers

When you use readers for your work (and you really must), don't forget to listen.  Sounds obvious, huh?  But you'd be surprised.  Listen to them.  Listen to what they are really saying.  They are being heartfelt  (Or are you really so far gone you don't chose readers you know you need to listen to?)  Think about what they say and then think some more.

I'm not saying you have to agree with them.  You don't.  Perhaps much of the time you shouldn't.  But you have to consider the work they've put in at your request, think about the greater objectivity they can bring to a text, ponder the points of your work that provide them struggle.

Once you've listened to them, once you've contemplated their reactions, then really listen to yourself.  Not your dreaming of being done with this damn thing self, not your dreaming about publication self, listen to the part of you that has been whispering in your ear since the beginning.  About that nagging part of our character you never actually portrayed.  About that little logistical problem you keep avoiding.  About that really difficult chapter you have never written because you're not sure how.  You've been unsure before and you have found a way.  Part of why you gave your readers the text is so that you can finally face the revisions you've known are necessary for so long now.  Listening to them will help you listen to your honest self.

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