IWSG October 1, 2014 – Insecure Writer’s Support Group

#InsecureWritersSupportGroup entry for e-book – Asking for Help

First Wednesdays are the time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group blog hop. This is the once-a-month blog hop started by Alec Cavanaugh . IWSG = Insecure Writers’ Support Group (click for the link).  We share our insecurities and support each other with empathy, sympathy and  practical suggestions. 

Thanks to the co-hosts for October 1:

You Have to Ask for Help

It doesn’t matter how fabulous you think someone is with his or her craft, it doesn’t matter how enjoyable, engrossing, beautifully written the work is, the writer always has an Achilles’ heel somewhere. 

In my case, I have a shyness – though I think the word is ‘fear’ – regarding asking for a beta read, a read-through, a review of a chapter.  I tend to get caught up in the flow of the story, the action… 

…Okay, now what?

Composing a story is, for me, as exhilarating as running before the wind on a sailboat.  But the wind will die down and you have to put the boat away.

So…  I have a story, and I’ve worked on it and worked on it and polished it, and I’m pleased with it (I’m pretty picky, actually), but another pair of eyes really is needed…isn’t it?

Heck, the story is good, the characters are well-rounded, I love them to death, and they convey the story so very well.

…I think…

But what would happen if I gathered my courage in both hands and, clearing my throat apologetically, actually asked for a beta-read from someone other than a friend who, though a fabulous editor is, after all, a friend who loves me and loves my work.  Yeah, yeah, that one does say when something stinks, but still…  Is it just the really bad ones that are mentioned, and the others are allowed to slip by because, after all, I’m an old, longstanding friend.  Is the input valuable at all?

They’re faking it because they don’t want to hurt my feelings (sob)

(By the time this thought occurs to me I am in full cringe mode, and I find myself thinking, what if I really am absolutely mediocre to terrible, and my friends only read me because they don’t want to see me cry?  And if the others read my work they would tear it to shreds because they don’t know me, don’t love me, and have never been my friends?) 

It’s persuasive – and why are the unpleasant things persuasive?

So, why do I have this shyness about stepping forward and asking other writers to read my work and (gasp!) maybe do a beta-read?  Maybe let me know what they think?  Why am I like this?

A beta-read offer!  YIKES!!!!

I mean, really, it’s silly, isn’t it?  To have this horrible fear that if I ask for help (read ‘Beta Read’) someone might say, “Sure.  I’ll do it.”

It is foolish to indulge such nonsensical fears, even though they are  normal.  I know jolly well that I can take it.  I’ve had nasty reviews and come away with some good criticism that I could use.   …Or am I afraid that I am going to bore someone, and they will say that my writing is frivolous and stinks and I’m bad news.  Let’s face it: I write historical fiction (alternate historical fiction, if you want to be strict).  No paranormal, some  love stories, but not, strictly speaking, Romances in the modern term.  I hear people talking of their work and think, Gee, they’re with it!  But me– 

Diana at work composing

No vampires, no Heroic Fantasy multisyllabic names, no zombies, no dystopia, no horror (unless you have a horror of em-dashes). 

I’m not cutting edge.  I don’t necessarily want to be.  I just want to be the best writer that I can.

The way I look at it, I can either go back to Business-As-Usual and fight my way through to a finished product, wearing out my friends and advisers (another insecurity, by the way: how long will they be able to stand me?)…
Or I can take a deep breath, step forward, manuscript or flash drive in hand, smile shakily at those people facing me who all write so well…I think… and say “I need help.  Can someone do a beta-read?”

Actually, that is the very best thing to do.  Not to seek help leads to stagnation. 

…Could be nice…

SHORT BIO: Diana Wilder is a writer of historical fiction, with elements of mystery, adventure, romance or fantasy. Her books include the four volumes of The Memphis Cycle, set in Egypt, as well as the first volume of her trilogy,
The Orphan’s Tale, set in 1830’s Paris. 

She blogs at http://dianawilder.blogspot.com.

Permission is granted to use this post in The Insecure Writer’s Support Group Guide to Publishing.

Check out the hop.  There are some fabulous posts to savor: