Warning: This is going to get mushy.
No one should be alone in anything, but for a solid decade, I was alone in everything, including finishing my first novel. Everyone has the power within them to tackle any task in a singular fashion. I was one of those kids growing up who hated working in groups. I preferred by far taking on all the work myself. That way I knew the project would be completed to my standards. I never wanted to rely on anyone else.
Why? Because, allowing someone to help you, to support you requires trust. Vulnerability. Risk. Fear. Yes, fear. Opening up to someone is terrifying. I am no exception. When I finished my novel, I didn’t want anyone to read it. I knew my ex would go out of his way to be cruel, and I was right. Then, I was afraid to let what few people I did trust to read my manuscript. What if my ex wasn’t being cruel? What if it sucked?
Still, beta readers are a necessity. So, I handed out copies. Everyone I let read it, loved my manuscript. All I the feedback I got was gushingly positive. But, I needed constructive criticism. I needed someone, who wasn’t afraid to tell me what a reader really thinks. So, I gave a copy to Nathan. We had only been friends for a short time, so I took the gamble maybe he would be objective. Within a few weeks, he finished it, loved it, except for the major fight scene. I knew it was weak but he suggested a complete rewrite of the battle. He was right. It made the novel better.
My point is everyone needs someone they can trust, to have your back, and be upfront about critiques without crushing your soul. I mean, no offense, but rejection letters are soul crushing enough on their own.
Find someone to be that person, the constructive and effective sounding board you need. You don’t necessarily have to fall in love with them and marry them, even though that did happen to me.
Readers, meet Nathan Perkins. I not only trusted him with my manuscript but more importantly, my heart. He’s always got my back in life and in writing. If something doesn’t work in a story, he helps me work through it. My writing is all the better for his honesty. He knows how to build me up, encourages my spirit, celebrates my successes, and kisses away my tears when I fail.
We are a team. I never thought I would ever trust someone as much as I trust him. I certainly never thought I would ever even want to be part of a team and now I don’t know where I would be without him. I’ve written a novel without a support structure and I’m writing one now with an amazing support structure. He is my serenity in the chaos. Find your person. Whether a friend or lover. Find that person who will be there for you, through it all, from chapter one to print. Trust someone. Be brave. You don’t have to take it on by yourself. Yes, it’s scary. You could get hurt. But, once you find your teammate, it’s all the more precious.
On that note, I’m happy to announce, in addition to my solo projects, Nathan and I just started writing a scifi/fantasy novel as co-authors.