I know my beta readers, some better than others, but I know they all have my best interest at heart. I know their feedback is meant to help me and is never a personal attack. I know this, my brain knows this. But my dang heart takes it all so personally.
I find my reactions fascinating and humorous at the same time. I have three stages of my reactions to beta feedback. I joke about it often.
First: Anger, if it’s a comment that goes against what I have written, if it doesn’t tell me how brilliant I am I get angry. I feel my face get hot, and the irrational angry thoughts come to my mind. I have an insatiable need to explain why my version is better and it requires no improvements.
Second: Sadness, Oh the tears, so many tears. Why does everybody hate my work? I’m useless, my work is useless, I can’t write to save my own life. I should just quit right here right now.
Third: Acceptance, Ah yes, I see what you are saying. I agree I should have put something in this spot or that. I need to describe this better or take that out completely.
It is not until I reach this third stage that I can actually start any revisions. I never contact any of my betas when I’m in those first two stages, well except for one and she just smiles and basically tells me to breathe through it. (She’s awesome that way) But the others are spared my insanity and I keep a distance until I’m actually in the right frame of mind for proper editing.
I find it interesting that I react that way, every time. When I think about who I was when I wrote my first book it makes sense that I would react in that manner. But you would think after six years and eight books I would have a better grip on myself.
I wonder if that’s arrogance? My need for people to love my work, warts and all. Or is it lack of self-confidence? My personal belief that I don’t have what it takes –imposter syndrome- I don’t know.
What I do know is that I cherish each and every one of my betas. I do my best to see their thoughts and notes through their eyes. Understand what they felt worked and didn’t work and why. Their honesty will make me a better writer; it will show me my weaknesses and help me improve.
I will forever protect them from my irrational anger and pitiful tears. I promise I will tell them how much they mean to me and acknowledge their involvement in my creative process. But I fear they will never fully know how much I cherish them.
Thank you my beautiful betas for your precious time, I hope I do you justice in my future edits.
I must return to my notes now, I am entering stage two and I believe my box of tissues is empty.