After ten years (on and off) of writing, deleting, starting again, more deleting, rewriting etc etc, I recently sent the finished draft of my first - and last - novel to five readers for their appraisal.
It was - and will remain - important that any reviews or comments that are received are totally (but perhaps not brutally) honest, because I really have no idea whether or not my writing style can adapt to a work of fiction.
As well as that, there is a decision to be made about what I do with the book. Do I self-publish for the sake of it? Or how about an e-book? If reaction is positive, do I maybe try and see if there are publishers out there who might be interested? Or if the reviews are crap, do I just shrug my shoulders and move on?
Well, earlier today, the first review arrived - unexpectedly quickly despite apologies for a slow reply! The sender was Sarah, a primary school classmate from way back when, and someone I haven't seen for well over thirty years - see, I didn't just plump for the "safe option"!
Sarah has therefore become the first person to read the completed work; she said she'd be honest - and that worried me - but here is what she had to say about The Beige Beetle:
"I really enjoyed the book - I think you write beautifully and the characters are totally believable. I was interested in them both, their lives and, of course, clever of you to provide tension right from the beginning - it meant I couldn't wait to get to the end!
"Very very good insight into the female mind; conversation was well thought through and easy to read - and yes, I liked the plot and [spoiler alert] the fact it wasn't a happy ending. It left me wanting more.
"I suppose the only thing I would say is that although I was sympathetic toward the couple, I felt a little too sorry for them, but that is such a minor observation. Really, I was hugely impressed!"
Wow! It's safe to say I wasn't expecting that... and I'm absolutely thrilled, flattered (and surprised if the truth be told) to receive such encouraging feedback. Hopefully over the weeks and months that follow, the positive theme will continue, but people who know me will be only too aware that I take nothing for granted...
What is for certain though, is that task no.28 on my 40Fifty Challenge - that of actually completing the novel - has now been achieved. Tick number fourteen, and for a while at least, a very happy writer!