Ann Lamott wrote a book called Bird by Bird, which discusses what it is to be a writer. One chapter title in the book is “Someone to Read Your Drafts”. She talks about the importance of finding a close friend who you can get to read your stuff for you:

“I know what a painful feeling it is when you’ve been working on something forever, and it feels done, and you give your story to someone you hope will validate this and that person tells you it still needs more work. You have to, at this point, question your assessment of this person’s character and, if he or she is not a spouse or lifelong friend, decide whether or not you want them in your life at all. Mostly I think an appropriate first reaction is to think that you don’t. But in a little while it may strike you as a small miracle that you have someone in your life, whose taste you admire (after all, this person loves you and your work), who will tell you the truth and help you stay on the straight and narrow, or find your way back to it if you are lost..”

Thankfully, I have a very close friend who is able to do this for me. I send her all the stuff I write and let her go over it. She is always good about telling me what is okay, and what needs work. She is always helpful and gives me lots of good ideas and insights. She is honest and thorough in her criticisms and I can count on her to always tell me the truth, not just what I would like to hear. “This sucks and here is why” is much more useful than being told “it’s the most wonderful and profound thing I’ve ever read. My life is forever better because of reading that.” Certainly the latter feels good, but the former is what I really need. My friend gives me that and if she ever says the latter, then I have confidence that it’s the truth, not flattery. All writers need to have someone like my friend in their lives. But she’s my friend. Go find your own.

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About R.P. Nettelhorst

I'm married with three daughters. I live in southern California and I'm the interim pastor at Quartz Hill Community Church. I have written several books. I spent a couple of summers while I was in college working on a kibbutz in Israel. In 2004, I was a volunteer with the Ansari X-Prize at the winning launches of SpaceShipOne. Member of Society of Biblical Literature, American Academy of Religion, and The Authors Guild
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