Friday, September 30, 2011

An Ode to Sam


I've been thinking a lot of critiquing and critics today.  I've found most people don't have enough heart or positiveness mixed into the corrections they have for writers.  By all this, I do mean amateur writers and amateur critics.

New writers want readers.  They scour, beg, and annoy many friends and family to find the people that are willing to read what isn't ready to be read by the world.  My family read my first book, and they'll listen to me rant and rave, but not many of my family members are really "readers".  I was born devouring words, and they have other hobbies.  I love my family just as they are and never would change them, not even to make them more interested in reading.  

My older sister reads what I write, but I refuse to take her opinion as honest.  I constantly am telling her she's biased, and therefor what she says doesn't count.  I think I frustrate her :).

I've had a few readers in my lifetime, though even less have actually finished a book.  Out of those readers, as helpful, hurtful, or pointless as some were, only one really stands in the place of "critic".

This critic is the only person I've ever known who can speak the harshest truths without me feeling defensive or angry.  He can tell me he hated a chapter and, while sometimes that makes me want to cry, it mainly just makes me want to be better.  He read my first two books---books, I might add, that were complete trash.  He stuck with me through them and gave me the feedback I needed at the time.

My critic, Sam, has been known to me for nearly my whole life.  We grew up a year apart in the church, and I've always known who he is.  Sometimes our paths cross as friends; others, as acquaintances.  He's one person who I could sit and discuss books with for hours, though what else we might talk about I wouldn't know.
Sam hasn't read in some time.  He's a busy young man, as I too am busy.

Today is my lament and my praise at once.  I lament that Sam is busy, but I say thanks for all that he has done for me thus far.  

I was pretty stubborn when I started writing--grossly so.  I wasn't going to change anything until I had an agent, and editor, and a publisher.  Then THEY could tell me what was needing changing, but they'd better accept me while it was still no good (I didn't realize it was no good).
With each rejection letter, I grew more discouraged and depressed.  My friends and family liked it, why didn't an agent?  It wasn't until I gave up entirely that Sam, unknowingly, brought me back to writing.  I'd told him I wasn't really interested in the story any more, and though he didn't know it, I'd grown weary of writing as well.  Sam's response was to tell me that, if it meant rewriting the whole thing to keep me telling the story, he would read it again.

Those words gave me the strength to do just that.  If Sam--my bluntest and most calloused reader--was willing to reread it all over again in hopes of it being better, than maybe others would too.  And maybe, just maybe, I would actually write something worth selling this time.

I rewrote both my first two books.  Have I sold them? Nope...
Has Sam read them?   


In this moment, I expect those reading this are confused, angry, or amused.  No matter what you're feeling, I am  not upset that Sam never reread them.  As I said--he's busy.  What matters is that he pushed me forward.  He gave me the truth no matter the cost and he kept me from giving up on my dream.

We all need Sams in our lives.  We need that person that is not so close that they are biased or their words hurt, but not so far that their indifference chafes.  Sam is the type of person that you know just well enough to be honest with, and that person with you.  

Writers need Sams.  Without them, we'd never be willing to try again.

So thank you, Sam, for all you've done.

This is the only photo I have of both me and Sam.  The best part, if you don't know us, you'll have no idea which ones we are.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I need a Sam too Shieldmaiden. Trapped in a Glitter Globe in a land of non-readers I hear you. If you're looking for a Beta Reader I'm your Blue Monkey.