Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Why your husband should not be your beta reader

Da Man is one of my beta readers because he demands to be one. He used to be a law review editor in law school so he thinks it makes him an editing genius. I was not too keen to hand it over. After all, it took him 6 months to read my first manuscript. Yes, 6 months. When someone you respect takes a long time to read something you wrote, you feel as if you are imposing upon them and that your work is really crappy because they can't make themselves read it. And unlike my beta readers, who I know have busy, hectic lives and I am just grateful for any time that they can devote to reading my work, I can see just exactly what my husband does in his free time. Like endless hours watching cheesy late night cable shows, going fishing, playing soccer, playing basketball, lifting weights, surfing the internet for I don't want to know, going to Sports Authority, talking on the phone way too long, sleeping on the sofa, picking his nose and scratching his ass. But mostly he watches way too much TV. He watches TV so much I think an antenna should start growing out of the top of his head. And everytime I see him watching TV, I think, WHY ISN'T THAT BASTARD READING MY BOOK?!!!!! Yes, it took him 6 months to read my first manuscript. But it was also 100,000 words long. At least this time, my new manuscript is only 52,000 words. Maybe this time he might be a little faster? I was unsure.

But he said he wanted to read it and I really do value his opinion so I gave it over to him, with the caveat that he needed to make it a priority and read it sooner than later. He printed it out and told me he would bring it to the beach and read it over vaca. After all, there would be plenty of downtime at the beach to read. I was hopeful. Well, we got to the beach and LO AND BEHOLD, he forgot his copy of my manuscript at home. Hmmmmm. Mortified and seeing the steam rising from my ears, the thinning of my lips and the reddening of my face, he promised me that as soon as we got home Friday night, he would devote the weekend to reading it. Yes I was disappointed and sad about it. But he promised, again, and I was sure he wouldn't break another promise.

Friday, we spent the whole ride not talking to each other because he is an ASS and got mad over something so trivial that I am too embarrassed to even write about it. he sulked for 3 hours straight, dropped us all off and drove off to sulk some more. He then spent the night watching stupid MTV shows all night long and not once cracking open my manuscript. Saturday night, after noting my Botox-like expression, he picked up the manuscript at 1:30AM and tried to read it. He got about 7 pages in before he crashed for the night. Sunday, he slept til 12, lumped around all day and didn't even try to crack the manuscript open. Monday, I thought for sure he would take it with him to read on the metro ride back and forth from work. But no. It lay abandoned and forlorn, next to the sad little pile of blankets on the floor he must now sleep on. Part of me feels brokenhearted that he has so little care for my creation. Had the roles been reversed, I would stay up all night to read whatever he had written. But he would rather watch Cribs or endless hours of boring fishing shows. Yes, I am a little hurt.

Last night, as he slept, I watched him, oh great love of my life. He likes to sleep with his arm raised over his head, a position of such peaceful repose. I looked down on him, sprawled out on the floor, and think to myself, I'd like to wax his armpits and show him what true pain is all about. His armpit hair is nice and long too. It would really catch the hot wax well. The amount of pain would be excruciating. I tingle with anticipation of his horrendous scream of agony. But wait, is waxing his armpit torturous enough? Who would even know of his shame? Perhaps an eyebrow instead? That may be just as excruciating, but adds the element of humiliation. Yes, his left eyebrow, cause he likes to sleep on his right side. I'll do it from behind, so I can race out of hitting range. Maybe that'll teach him to break another promise.

35 comments:

Lisa said...

While I was away last week, I can't tell you how many times I heard the phrase "your significant other should NEVER be your beta reader". I'm sure there are exceptions, but not too many. Scott is the most wonderful man on the planet, BUT whenever I am jonesing for feedback on something, he's the worst person I could get it from. He just doesn't like the kind of fiction I write and I suspect he's always looking for ME in my protag, so without fail, I feel terrible about myself after he's read something. A couple of very wise people who are close to me have finally gotten through and I now subscribe to the philosophy of never letting him read. No good ever seems to come of it.

Beth said...

Ello, I think you are very brave. I would never let my husband be my beta reader. I never let him read anything I write because he doesn't write and would suck for feedback. Did you ever see that Chevy Chase movie set in Redbud? He gave his wife his manuscript and forced her to read it? That reminded me of this so had me laughing my butt off a bit!

BTW, I really liked your story at Jason's. Your another one I always look for, Woman!

Demon Hunter said...

Hey Ello,
I've been kinda out of commission myself lately. Glad to see that the girls have gotten better. :-)

I think you should wax his eyebrow. My uncle tried to light something when he was a teenager, and singed off his own eyebrows. His eyebrows are just starting to grow back and he's in his late 50's. LOL. :-)

Patti said...

there's this little thing college students like to do to each other: shaming.

the rules go like this: first one who passes out at a party gets shamed, which means permanent magic markers to the face. go to collegehumor.com if you have never seen a person shamed. hill-air-ee-us!

Elizabeth Joy said...

Ello, here's a few leeetle tips. My husband is my alpha, beta, gamma and delta reader--Yes he reads my manuscripts at least four times before my editor sees them, and catches most of the flaws so that my editor will think I am brilliant all on my own.

Tip number one: Tell him that you've nestled a steamy sex scene based on one of your best nights together somewhere within the manuscript. It may be on the 20th page, it may be on the 200th--he'll have to read and see.

Tip number two: Tell him there's a scene modeled on steamy sex you had with a stranger before you guys met.

Tip number three: When he gets all mad and asks why you lied about the sex, act all insulted and accuse him of not reading closely enough.

moonrat said...

OH MY LORD but i relate to this B***S**T!!!!

even telling the RM i had WRITTEN HIM INTO the effin' thing (ok, it was a lie, but it was a good lie!!) didn't inspire him. and i read, line edit, and typeset ALL of HIS stuff!!!! never mind follow him to all of his events like a homeless puppy. BOO!! BOO!!

Precie said...

Oh, and if there is retribution, please let there pictures. :)

Precie said...

LMAO at Elizabeth's tips!

Well, now you know for sure not to rely on Da Man as a beta reader.

Angela Williams Duea said...

Augh, I would be hurt too. So tell me, what part of him got waxed? I can think of a place to try.

Sarah Hina said...

I want to hear from the one-eyebrowed culprit. Maybe he has some pleas for mercy (um, excuses).

Send it to me, Ello! I'll read it. :)

Charles Gramlich said...

I think it's a good idea not to have loved ones read your work if you're expecting a critique. Let them enjoy or not, but looking for a reasonable critique is probably pie in the sky thinking.

JaneyV said...

It's such a lousy idea to let your significant other read your stuff. It's impossible for them to give an honest critique because if it's shit and they tell you - you'll hate them. If it's shit and they don't tell you - you'll hate them. If it's good and they don't rave about it - you'll hate them and lastly if it's brilliant and they tell you just that - you'll never believe them. It's a lose-lose situation. I'm thinking Da Man's probably figured that out and that's why he hasn't read it. Why he asked to in the first place is just anyone's guess.

Still - I guess he knows now how hurtful that was and I bet he's starting to realise that 24' fishing boat you're supposed to be buying him once you're fabulously wealthy is slipping further and further away - as are his eyebrows!

BTW Elizabeth's strategies are brilliant! Bloody Genius!

preTzel said...

Wax an eyebrow? That's not enough. I think you need to wax a "skunk stripe" down the middle of his head. Once that is done paint it bright white so everyone will see him coming. Yeah, I'm a bitch that way. I might even spit in his food or color his face with Sharpies of all colors. Draw a huge penis, maybe a vagina or something. I love to get revenge. LOL!

That being said - Don't count on your spouse to read your stuff. Mr. will read mine but then asks me "What does this word mean?" Honey, the word "the" means "THE!" DOH! :D

March to the Sea said...

i'll read for you..i read on like an 8th grade level though....

Anonymous said...

Just for the record:
- I am the king of procrastinating (and generally pretty lazy),
- I do not watch MTV,
- I do have an affinity for fishing shows altough I used to laugh at those that did, and moreover,
- I do not have hairy arm pits.

That said, I know I volunteered to read the manuscript and fully intend to. In fact, I venture to say I will have completed the task by this coming weekend (including thoughtful edits and incredible insights).

. . . stay tuned.

Da' Man

Steve Malley said...

Yikes. Now I understand why I'd so often wake up to find my girlfriend at the time staring in silence...

laughingwolf said...

you are brave, el... elizabeth has the best tips... and i trust no family/sig other to tell me the truth about what i write

McKoala said...

Memo to self: always be nice to ello. (I like my eybrows the way they are).

Hope he gets over his man-ness soon.

Colleen_Katana said...

This is why I fucking hate men sometimes.

I vote for a bikini wax for Da Man!

Colleen_Katana said...

PS - Sorry for dropping the F-Bomb. If it's deplorable, feel free to moderate and delete the comment!

Merry Monteleone said...

Oh, yes, let there be pictures... and now you have me feeling all guilty because I haven't sent you crits yet - they're coming, I swear...

It could be worse though, my husband type person is not a reader and really thinks I'm just playing around online whenever I'm on the computer - which is sometimes true but not always... he's never read any of my fiction... okay, he used to read it while we were dating, which I think is what they call a bait and switch, acting all supportive and then, umn, not so much....

The one letter I wrote for the school to send publicly (long story) it was the first thing I'd written for people to see in a while, having been buried at home with the kids for a good long stretch, and I made him read it just to get another opinion before handing it in....

he told me it read like stereo instructions...

It didn't, by the way, if he was an honest critic I wouldn't still be pissed about it...

Ah well, that was a fun rant... back to my reading.

pjd said...

So now we know the real reason Da' Man is on crutches. "Yes, officer, it was a... um... soccer injury. Yeah, that's the ticket."

I found out with my first manuscript that it is unfair to ask my wife to read my writing. It's no different than a woman asking her husband, "Does this make me look fat?" There is no possible answer he can give that will be satisfactory, and most possible answers will cause trouble.

Same thing with a manuscript. "Do you like what I wrote? Be honest." Totally, totally unfair question for a significant other.

JaneyV said...

Pretty pretty template - I love the new look! :0)

Bernita said...

Promises, promises, hmmm....
He'd better learn to show a little respect.

Sherri said...

Hey, Ello, thanks for poking up your head at my blog. I don't know why I haven't been over here before, since I have seen you around at Moonrat's.

But I'm glad I visited today, because I'm going through the same thing you describe here, even down to the armpit-waxing thoughts. That one made me snort.

My guy tried to read my manny, enthusiastic at first, but after a few days of lying untouched on the coffee table, I quietly put it on the bookshelf, and it hasn't been missed.

writtenwyrdd said...

No no, you must wax his groin. That will at least approximate your pain.

Don't let him read your stuff. Just take it back and say that you value your marriage and your great and abiding love and respect for him over his no doubt valuable opinion of your work. (That may not be quite passive-agressive enough, but you get the gist.) Seriously, though, marriage before his no doubt valuable insights. You have more than one beta reader, but only one father to the children.

Ello said...

Da Man is back in good graces as I watched him feverishly reading my manuscript - so waxing is on hold for now!

And most appreciative of everyone's kind support!

Chris Eldin said...

Make sure to quiz him.

And do take the advice of your friends here.
:-)

Robin said...

Oh wow! So nice to know I'm not alone...my SE (spouse equivalent) refuses to even discuss my writing, much less read it! It's my "pipe dream" (which I earned by sinking my money into this venture and spending two years behind the wheel of one of our semi's, thank you very much!).

If he did ask...I would look at him sideways, then look up for alien spacecraft.

Sure, I'd like his support but it ain't gonna happen! Ergo, the check will be ALL mine! And for that, he can keep his body hair and be thankful for it!

The Anti-Wife said...

Remind me never to piss you off!

Mary Witzl said...

As I write this, I'm waiting for my husband to come home and read my 93,000 word novel, rewritten for the eighth time. In fact, I agree with just about everything you have said here, but I must be a glutton for punishment, or else why would I go through this? Your husband sounds so much like mine I feel a little nervous. Wait -- mine no longer plays soccer! And he isn't a lawyer! They cannot be the same man.

Although my husband has all those problems and puts off reading my MS for nonsense reasons, when he does get down to it, he's a shrewd commenter and can always spot holes in logic. Plus, who else wants to slog through my MS? I'm hard up -- I guess that's why I get him to do it. Sigh.

And I'm in awe of Elizabeth's tips too.

Precie said...

Da Man better come through by this weekend. I'm happy to hear he was seen reading the manuscript.

As he now sees, the blogosphere is watching. And waiting. And possibly planning.

Anonymous said...

. . . done.

Da' Man

cindy said...

haha! my hub already said that he won't read my novel even when it comes out! oh well. he just doesn't appreciate the genius of a wife he married. =p as long as he babysits so i can go write / writing meetings / conferences. ha!

i also LOVE the new blog look! very very nice!

Travis Erwin said...

I absolutely hate for my wife to read my writing. She always wants to but then starts and never finishes and that is how I like it.

By the way I like the new look. Really snazzy.

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