You imagine that this will be a glorious heart warming moment, seeing the love of your life read your writing…
Reality can be different.
1. Nervous jabbering on your part – You will find chatter away at high speed about all sorts of rubbish. Especially if your loved one is like mine and gives ‘brutal feedback’ (15 years of marriage, two kids and 3 cats – marital tact and diplomacy both left the room a long time ago).
2. The knowing look – This is one hell of a scary look from your loved one to you. It is normally given over dinner as they ask you to pass them the salt, whilst you are passing them plates from the dishwasher or as you are ironing. Their eyes say everything! They know what you have been writing about all these months, they know everything about your story, your characters and those ‘naughty scenes’ too. The look from them says it all!
3. The ‘state of the house in view of what you have written’ look – This is where your loved one takes one look at your draft, then raises head to gaze around the room at the state of the house and the size of the laundry pile. Their eyes will return back to your draft and then back to the laundry pile, repeating up to twenty times. In their head they are asking themselves “was it worth it?” – little do they know you are also doing the same thing!
4. Insane paranoia – You will watch their movements like a hawk for the next couple of weeks. Every movement they make will be read by you as a ‘sign’ of what they think about your draft. Cue – your interrogation when they get home from the pub, saying things like “was it so bad? did my draft turn you to drink?”
5. Increase in sweat levels – Its a sweaty time for any writer when someone in close proximity is reading their draft.
6. A willingness to please – You will get it into your head that if you are ultra nice to your loved one then the feedback will not be so brutal. Cue the happy production line in the kitchen of endless cups of tea, coffee, cakes and light snacks for them. Some (desperate) writers will resort to other methods of pleasing their loved ones but lets not discuss things like letting them win at Scrabble, letting them watch their odd TV box sets and other stuff!
7. The ‘biting of the tongue’ moments – This is where your loved one keeps asking frustrating comments about your draft. These comments relate to things which you understand perfectly well in your head and you don’t see why they need to be questioned or changed. As long as you understand what you are rattling on about, that is the important thing.
Irritation starts to build and then you realise they are doing you a favour because if you have been wasting months of your life on some pile of literary wrong they will not hesitate to tell you. Bite your tongue, answer all questions nicely and resist urge to bite their head off whilst shouting “I explain that later in the book – I get it – isn’t that enough?”
8. An increase in appetite and consumption of wine – Its a nervous time for any writer going through this painful experience so you might as well enjoy yourself.
9. Excessive use of the phrase ‘have you read it yet?” – Every five minutes you will get the urge to ask them.
10. “I can get through this” – Its painful to know that your loved one is reading your draft. After a couple of days of knowing looks, irritating questions and frustration you realise that they are only trying to help. You can survive this tough time and they may come up with some useful feedback. Look on the bright side – if it is a pile of literary wrong at least you will know and can happily move onto writing another book! Sigh!
Hang in there and keep running in to the living room with those trays full of light tasty snacks!
Happy Writing folks!