13 November 2013

The Sparkling Comment

Today I'm gonna talk about the influence of other people's comments on blog posts. And pimp some people out. 

But first! In case you were just dying to know, I did get my concert tickets. So Phase One of the Muse-iversary New York Adventure is complete! Phase Two was asking my boss if I could have President's Day off, so I could make it a two night trip and not be rushing around to only do one thing. He just sort of chuckled evilly and said, "As long as you work Valentine's Day..." Yeah, like I really thought I was getting out of that one, anyway. So Phase Two is complete. I'm not sure what Phase Three is at this point (Profit!), probably finding a hotel and getting bus tickets and blah blah blah. The more fun part is finding book-related things to do. Like, maybe a trip to the Met (do you think my boyfriend would mind? We've already been twice...). And a picnic in February is totally plausible, right? 

Geez I really have the tendency to ramble, don't I? 

So! Comments! If you're like me, you put a blog post out there and you spend the rest of the day stalking Blogger or your email for comments. I absolutely love getting comments. I crave them. It's fun to interact with other bloggers, and when someone leaves a comment it shows that they really took the time to read your post and put some thought into how they would respond. Plus, it gives me the chance to check out their blogs and learn something new, since I always like to return the favor. 

It's exciting to get a new person commenting. You've probably never seen their blog before so you have something new to check out. It's a good way to meet other bloggers. It's also just as great to have some bloggers who always check out your posts and leave a comment. You'll usually get some attention for your more insightful posts, but it's also nice to have people respond no matter what you're writing about. Quick shout out to two of my favorite blogging buddies, Aaron Browder and Casey Lynn Clark, who almost always leave a comment on my blog, even when I'm rambling about absolutely nothing. You guys are awesome!

I have an interesting story. Last Wednesday for my Insecure Writer's Support Group post (which you should also check out, by the way, it's the most awesome of all the blog hops), I talked about my insecurities over whether or not to let people read the first draft of my book. A lot of people have asked me, "When can I read it?" and I'm not sure if I'm ready. Since it was IWSG day, I got more comments than usual. And almost every single one said that I should get a second draft ready before giving it to anyone. I did want advice, because I was so uncertain, but I'll admit I was a little disappointed. I've been working on this story for a long time and I'd really like for people to read it. But after reading the advice of other writers, I thought, ok, they're right, it's not ready and I shouldn't give it out. 

But then I got one last comment. I was actually checking my email on my phone leaving work after a double. I had to stop and stare at it for a while. It was the sort of comment you don't get every day. It sparkled, it outshone all of the other comments that came before it. This comment was from David P. King, and I feel I have to share it to do it justice: 

This may sound awful and I don’t mean it to, but I’ve come to learn that there are many types of readers – some casual, some critical. And I tend to let my casual readers be my alphas and those who will dissect every last sentence my betas. This helps spot the obvious problems first and the tiny ones become more noticeable while editing the next draft. Do share your story with others, especially those who are willing to help…

Whoa. I was completely thrown back by this comment. David was saying what no one else was, and it made perfect sense to me. Why not let some people read? Most of the people who have asked to read are coworkers, who are just interested in the fact that I wrote a book at all, especially after my years of working on it. These are not people who are desperate to critique, who will be able to rip it apart. That's not even what I need right now. I'm perfectly capable of ripping it apart all on my own. Once I've fixed everything that I feel is wrong with it, that's when I'll need people to point out what I missed. 

Maybe what I need right now is just that sort of confidence boost of someone reading it at all. Even if it's complete garbage, if they find just one moment that they love, then it'll be worth it. If they find things wrong that I haven't noticed yet, that will be worth it, too. 

So I've made the decision to share, probably with the people who keep bugging me at work about it. I do need to do a tiny bit of editing, basically fix all the parts that I'd be embarrassed to have someone read. But nothing too extreme. I kinda just want to put it out there. I'm not sure who my beta readers will be yet, maybe I'll seek out some former coworkers from the bookstore who are avid writers and readers. Who knows? But at least right now I have a starting point. 


  1. Thanks for the mention! You made my day. :)

    When I sent my first draft out, I had one friend who told me, with a little work, this could be a great book. Looking back, I'm embarrassed that I let people see my work in such an ugly state. But there have been times when that comment from my friend pulled me out of a motivational rut.

    Not to mention, seeing my book all formatted on Kindle and in someone else's hands was a liberating experience!

    You have to be careful, though. Most people don't understand that the books they read have gone through so much revision. They are apt to be disappointed by a first draft (of a first novel). Give it to someone whom you know will enjoy it no matter what.

    1. You're welcome! :)

      I think the people who I plan on giving the first draft will enjoy it. I was talking with one of them and he said it didn't really matter that it needed revision. Since it's something I've been working on and put so much effort into, there's still something special about it and it's worth reading.

  2. I so identify with what you say about receiving comments and watching and waiting for them.

    As far as people reading what you've written I guess the main thing is knowing your potential readers and whether or not they are sincere about reading your work. Some people will just say they want to read because they feel like that's the thing to say. If you know someone loves to read and they express interest in reading what you've written then that might be the winner.

    I'm reading a 1000 page novel of a friend of mine right now. It's slow going especially being on the computer, but I'm giving his work an honest read and will give him an honest assessment. I'd rather hear the truth from someone than a bunch of face niceties before the book goes to the query or editor stage.

    Good luck with yours! And with your readers--may they read with honest critical assessment.

    A Faraway View

    1. That's true, some people are probably just intrigued by the idea that I wrote a book and the whole, "I want to read it!" thing might be a little fake. That's part of why I'll probably only give it to a few people.

  3. I love getting comments too... yeah, I stalk my email! As for what the comments say, sometimes you ask for help but you know what you want the answer to be. If no one gives you the right answer it can make you feel like you're wrong. But then you get the right answer! Those comments are great :-)

    1. That was pretty much the feeling I had when everyone was telling me not to give out my book, that I wanted to hear the opposite. That's why I appreciated the last comment so much, because it was this sort of hybrid between what I wanted to hear and what was actually going to work.

  4. Well, shoot! I'm glad my comment held water for you. Thanks for the mention!

    I'll take what I said one step further. There's nothing wrong with letting readers know that it's your first draft and they'll likely run into mistakes (which you'll likely catch in your next read), but ask if they are willing to point out issues that really stand out for them (plot holes, inconsistencies, etc). That gives your reader something to pay attention to and makes them a more active reader. Also, be sure that you can trust your reader, especially with a word doc or electric copy ... just to be on the safe side. :)