And While I Wait – Beta Readers: Give It Your Best Shot

By Stephen Francis Foley on Saturday 8th April 2017.

Much has happened in the few months since my last update. The first draft of ‘An Act of God’ was completed in early March and I swore I’d leave it to percolate for a bit before ripping into it like a Velociraptor that hasn’t eaten for 60 million years; but I couldn’t stay away. Much cut and thrust ensued and Draft 2 was completed earlier this week.

A swift search for beta readers followed and, with a deepening sense of foreboding and the damage to my already crumbling ego increasing, I hurried myself down to The Novel Hovel on Exchequer Street to buy half a gallon of ‘thick skin’. Directions for use are straightforward: apply liberally twice a day on all exposed surfaces until I hear the first of what is sure to develop into a chorus of laughter.

So what now?

I wait. The clock ticks on, the days drift by and still I wait. For my beloved beta readers, numbering almost thirty, will take their time. Some will do exactly as I’ve prescribed and in doing so eviscerate my worthless book. But fear not, for I am protected by the already purchased and liberally applied ‘thick skin’. Others will read it and provide a less than honest assessment. These folk will have seen the chink in my liquid armour and, rather than pierce it and release my tortured soul, they will say ‘It was very good’, smile and unfriend me from all social media. Still more will suffer through a handful of chapters before eventually throwing in the towel. They will cast it aside – I can already hear the sound of trashcans and recycle bins being filled and emptied. Then there is the small group of readers who will forget they had been given an advance copy of a true masterpiece and store it in some dusty attic or digital archive only for it to be resurrected by their great, great, grand children; at least somebody might profit from it or at the very least have a jolly good laugh.

And while I wait?

I will read: Vonnegut and Bradbury (and the new John Connolly book too).

I will write: a new novel set in inner city northside Dublin.

I will review: ‘An Act of God’ will be read aloud, the red pen brandished and it’s ink run dry across the pages of detritus.

One question though hangs over me : have I bought enough ‘thick skin’?

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