August 13, 2011

Blissfully Ignorant: The Writer's Friends and Family

Family can be a complicated thing. As writers, we're told not to trust them to give the best feedback on our work. I was blessed with an understanding, supportive family. They probably know I'm crazy, but they don't say it out loud. I occasionally let them read my work.

My family is great (fantastic, wonderful, amazing) in so many ways. They're really good for bouncing story ideas around and for helping me develop my story. They're great for research.

But they aren't writers. (Okay, one sister is.)

When they read my work, sometimes their feedback upsets me (because they just don't understand that you don't SAY that when you critique someone else's writing because it's MY book, not theirs) or it's bubbly-positive and I can't trust it because, well, they love me and care about my feelings.

Oh, goodness... and then there are the relatives that ask: How's the book coming along? every time they see me. And every time they do, I think of Stewie from Family Guy:

How you uh, how you comin' on that novel you're working on? Huh? Gotta a big, uh, big stack of papers there? Gotta, gotta nice litte story you're working on there? Your big novel you've been working on for 3 years? Huh? Gotta, gotta compelling protaganist? Yeah? Gotta obstacle for him to overcome? Huh? Gotta story brewing there? Working on, working on that for quite some time? Huh? (voice getting higher pitched) Yea, talking about that 3 years ago. Been working on that the whole time? Nice little narrative? Beginning, middle, and end? Some friends become enemies, some enemies become friends? At the end your main character is richer from the experience? Yeah? Yeah?
Here's a link to the video, but I'm sure it violates some kind of copyright, so who knows how long it'll be up:

And then there's "that guy" who tells the WORLD that I'm (writing a novel, submitting to agents, got a partial request) and then I have random people come up to me and practically recite the above Stewie transcript.

So, yeah. Even though my wonderful family has the best of intentions and are taking an interest in what I do, I don't love sharing every intimate detail of my writing with them.

I sometimes feel lousy, unappreciative, and ungrateful, but at least I'm sane.

So really, when I say "Blissfully Ignorant", I'm talking about their ignorance and my bliss.


Anonymous said...

Interesting Post. I have to agree. I don't want my family or friends reading until the book is finished.

When my husband asked to read my WIP, I was very uncomfortable. I had to say no and explain that this is only a rough draft, that the story may not even stay the same after I revise it.

I do like family feedback for editing after the revising is all done. Many pairs of eyes see more than just one.

Unknown said...

I let them read the final product. At that point I can smile and nod no matter what they say because it's done. And maybe I can learn something for my next book. You're right. The more eyes, the better. As long as it doesn't make the muse clam up. :)

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