Since finishing the manuscript for The Oak Lovers I’ve been through several rounds of critique and revision. I’d like to think I’ve developed a thick skin, that I can take most of what is thrown at me graciously, and consider comments carefully before deciding if I agree with them or not. I turned into a quivering mass of raw nerves, however, when I handed the novel over to a certain reader yesterday.
I sat at my desk pretending to work. Behind me I heard a lot of typing. This reader is not the type to give many “roses” and so he must be finding a lot of “thorns.” He likes science fiction, fantasy, espionage and high-octane stories with big body counts. The Oak Lovers has no alternate universes, car chases, gore, or doomsday scenarios. It’s a (gasp) love story, and the only political intrigue takes place within the Toronto art circles of the early 20th century.
I paint with words. My husband, Mr. PhD-in-physics, prefers to think in equation form.
|Madonna Ahrens circa 1910|
If an agent hates my book, there are always other agents. If my husband does, I’ll be heartbroken.
Five chapters in, he called me over to his desk and went over his comments. As I suspected, literary references went over his head. There aren’t many, they aren’t obscure, and they make sense in context, but the unfamiliar names tripped him up. He called the story “enjoyable” though, and he’s neck deep in the courtship phase, which will be the least interesting to him.
Much of what he brought up won’t be a problem in my genre and tripped up none of my other readers. I don’t discourage him from marking up the book, though. The fact that he points things out and takes the time to comment on more than a stray typo proves he loves me enough to read carefully, even if it isn’t his type of book. It shows he’s taking an interest in my work and has a vested interest in my success.
To my writer friends: At what point do you show your work to your spouse? What has your experience been?