The first time I heard the term "Beta Reader" I thought it had something to do with the fish. Shows you how much I knew when I started writing my book. But I've learned a little since then. And gotten brave enough to start sharing my work with people I actually interact with, even if those interactions are limited to 140 characters per message. And so far? So good. I'm getting great feedback on little things I missed, like scenes that didn't connect or using a certain word too many times in a paragraph.
And the typos. Let's not forget those.
All in all, though, the beta reading process has been eye-opening and exciting. There's always that little bit of terrified anticipation every time I have hit send with a manuscript (and I have a few in the works and multiple almost ready for agent queries) and even more when a response is received.
But nothing compares to the email I just sent.
To my personal trainer.
Can I just say, "Holy Shitballs, Batman!"
Let me explain.
I walked into this new little gym a year ago with great expectations and a plan for a book. "I'm fat and need to lose weight and want to share my experience with other mom's tired of being fed the company line about how easy it is," I explained to the man nodding his head as he took notes for our introductory meeting and the woman who leads my Zumba classes. "How much weight do I want to lose? Oh, 40 pounds. I'm 236 right now...hoping to get as close to NOT being 200 pounds as I possibly can by the time I write "The End."
I explained I had PCOS, hypothyroidism, and karmic vengeance kicking my ass. I also explained that I was a doormat, raised to put my family before my own needs so there was a high chance making dinner and QT time with The Husband might be a barrier I needed to work on. But that I wanted this to happen and that I needed this to happen. Not just for the book, but for my own sanity.
Fast forward to the present.
I've lost a grand total of 10 pounds. To be more precise, I've lost something along the lines of 30, but each incremental loss yo-yo'd me right back to Holy Hell status. I eat right: no pop, minimal processed foods (Ben & Jerry's is my kryptonite), trim the fat off my meats, serve fruits and veggies with almost every meal, have learned to love my coffee black and my eggs minus the gooey yumminess of the yolk. I avoid all food items with the so-called "bad oils" and stick to the good ones, and spend a small fortune on organics each time I enter the grocery store.
I might not work out as often as I had planned, but I do work out. Zumba, hour long walks in my hilly subdivision, tae bo, pilates, and that Spanish Inquisition torture thinly disguised as a workout known as P90X (No, I did not make it 90 days because it was too X for my jiggly ass).
My nephew visited recently from out of state and was shocked to see how we eat. What I buy. How I prepare it. I honestly think that he (and the rest of the family) assumed I ate like I just didn't give a damn because well, I don't exactly look like I eat like I do. I try. Each and every day. Some choices may not be the best (like the PMS-inspired Chicken Marsala at the Olive Garden tonight) but I'm not sure how much more I can do in the little time I have left in my year of discovery short of cashing in my chips and denying a tummy tuck and lipo, Hollywood style.
All of this is in my book. And every word about to be read by the husband-wife team who have followed up on their end of the bargain. They've done their job. I'm just not sure I've done mine and well, that's why I am all cluster-beeped in the nerves while waiting for their reaction.
Then I saw a tweet from @writersblocktips.
A bird does not sing because it has an answer. It sings because it has a song--Chinese Proverb
I don't write because I have an answer. I write because I have a story. And I need to share it.
So I am.