I am so proud and privileged to be part of an ongoing beta-team with one of my best friends. And thank goodness she’s not incredibly private about her series, because I cannot stop talking about it! I have quoted it, praised it, and gushed about it to countless people. If you’ve gotten into a conversation with me at any point in the last five months or so, chances are, you’ve heard a thing or two about my friend’s story in one form or another.
Despite the fact that I’m her beta—meaning I see the stories in some of their roughest format—what comes up in these conversations with other people is never the typos or word corrections I make. I don’t tell people about the exchanges we have back and forth over plot elements or paragraphs that we don’t see eye-to-eye on. When I talk about her series, I only mention the positives. Not because I’m trying to be insincere in my approach and feelings toward her stories—but because when I step out of my editing shoes (and honestly, even when I’m in them, though I have to force myself to approach with a more critical eye then), all I feel for her story, her characters, and her world is love.
The last thing I would ever do is go to anyone and bash my friend’s story. I wouldn’t harp on the mistakes or make it a point to rail on every detail I disagree with. I wouldn’t rant to an outside source about the parts that might need to be tweaked, expanded, or fleshed out. The thought never even occurs to me.
So why is it that when I talk to other people about my story, oftentimes all I can think of is the negatives?
If you’re like me, you may have a tendency to diminish or downplay your story’s strengths. You might find yourself speaking about it in the most basic or cliched terms when someone asks you what the premise is. You may categorize it, minimize the better points, or end the brief and painful discussion with, “But it’s still a piece of garbage right now.” If someone says they can’t wait to read it when it’s published someday…well, raise your hand if you’ve ever come back with a sardonic, “Yeah, if I’m lucky enough for that to happen!”
Now ask yourself this: would you ever finish your description of a friend’s story with, “But it’s still a piece of garbage right now”? Or even, “Yeah, if they’re lucky enough to get it published one day…”
Chances are, you wouldn’t. So my encouragement to you this week is this: learn to talk about your own story like you would a beloved friend’s. Focus on the positives more than the negatives, and live in that reality. Address your story with the same respect that you would if it had been written by someone you love and care for very much, who you had absolute faith could make even the roughest parts into something lovely.
Because, just as much as your friend—you are that person. And your story is that story, deserving to have its high points lauded and the heart behind it praised.