When I first started writing, I though it was a solo endeavor--just me alone with my thoughts a a keyboard. I naively thought I could write something brilliant the first time and send it to the perfect person and it would get published. So not the case for me, and for most writers.
Writing is a group effort.
But, regardless of the end result (published or not,) or even the type of book (fiction or non-fiction,) I have come to not only appreciate the role a handful of people have played in my life, but come to depend on them being in my circle.
Funnily enough, I came across an article that shared some of my same sentiments here, though I have one more person on my list.
I've got a few of these in my circle of support. The more the merrier! These are the ones that think you are just awesome, and are eager to tell you so. I have one particular cheerleader named Marianne. She loves me and my writing, and I love her for it. She has read all of my manuscripts, and even called me at 10:30pm on the night she finished my fiction MS because she couldn't wait to tell me how much she loved it. Oh, how I love her!! Whenever I begin to doubt my ability and/or work, all I have to do is call her and the shower of compliments begin *deep cleansing breath* and my confident soon returns. Cheerleaders are necessary to balance out the other people in your corner. I love my cheerleaders. They help me write with confidence.
The Avid Reader
This person is a friend that reads a lot . . . A LOT. They should be honest and forthcoming in their opinion of your writing. They give you great insight into how your book stacks up against all the other books they've read. They are great at telling you if your book is too similar to something they've read before, etc. They are able to look at your book in a holistic approach: is it satisfying, predictable, does it follow a trend in the market, etc. They help you be a better story teller.
This is the person that can it like it is. Do you abuse semicolons? Do you neglect commas? This person has the ability to not only read for content (does it make sense, etc.) but for spelling and grammar. They have an eye for mistakes, and actively look for them. I'll admit, at first, I didn't want any of these people in my corner. They would mess up my beautiful MS with red ink, or comments and changes in Word. I did shed a tear or two the first time my MS came back a different color, but now I not only appreciate it, I come to love the correction. They help you be a better writer.
This is the person you can turn to when you're stuck in your storyline. They have the ability to ask you the right questions and offer suggestions that get you back on the right track, or send you on a completely different track. They are often writers themselves, and love the creative process. They help you keep the story fresh.
The "I Know a Guy"
In the world of writing, if you don't have a big name yourself or a big name backing you, much of your success will depend on the connections you make with others. It's great to have a friend who has his or her hands in a lot of places. They know writers/authors, they know small publishing houses, writer's conferences, free-lance editors, book review bloggers, etc. This is the guy that "knows a guy" who can help you in the pursuit of your dream of getting published. They help open up opportunities for you and your book(s).
Okay, maybe not a total stranger, but I've found great value in finding a person or two that don't really know me personally to read my stuff. Without any personal connection they can read the book for what it is, not for who I am. They can read without the distraction of our personal relationship. They'll read your book the same was as any person would who just happened to pick it up at the book store. They have an insight that is invaluable: the insight of a true critic/fan. They help you keep it real.
To the tune of the good old Sesame Street song, I happily sing, "These are the people in my cir-ircle. In my cir-ircle. In my cir-ircle. Oh, these are the people in my cir-ircle. They're the people that I need each day, when I'm filling that white sheet, they're they people that I neeeed each daaay!"
Hopefully you've got at least one of each of these in your circle, too. If not, go out there and get 'em. I promise you, you won't regret it!
Thanks Scott, Debbie, Marianne, McKenna, Stephanie, Bonnie, Wendy, Christine, Laura, Heidi, Tanya, and more!