Monday, January 11, 2010

The Drew Review

I had my 10-year-old son review my WIP yesterday. He reads a lot and he's not afraid to tell me when something sucks. He had read this story in an earlier incarnation, but over the course of a year it's changed a lot.

I heard chuckles, he made marks and notes. When he got to the beginning of Chapter 8 he looked up and said, "You're good with humor!"

Can you even imagine how happy those four words made me? I'm not a naturally funny person. Sarcastic, yes. But funny? I have to work at it. To hear him say that felt as good as an editor saying she wants to publish my book. Well, almost.

The thing is, I know my son loves me, but he also takes a sort of sadistic pleasure in pointing out my weakness and mistakes. Like if I wear a tank top, it's like an open invitation for him to come up from behind, shake the flab on the back of my arms and say, "Squishy, squishy, squishy." Exactly the words every woman wants to hear.

And don't let me call something by the wrong name, especially one of my children. That invites ridicule like nothing else!

I know that editors and agents could care less how much your family likes your writing. Don't worry. I won't be adding his recommendation to my query. But he is in my target audience. And to see the pleasure on his face, to hear him say how much he likes the story...well, it was priceless.

32 comments:

MeganRebekah said...

I know how you feel! When my teenage sister read my first couple of chapters, she paused halfway through and said, "You're actually funny"
I too have more of a sarcastic sense of humor, and I've incorporated a lot of that into my characters dialogue. It felt great to have her recognize and appreciate that!

Vivian said...

It's always a good sign when a manuscript makes a child smile and laugh. And definitely priceless when you know your child likes the world you've created. Yay!

Tess said...

How very cool is that?!? Good stuff.

Katie said...

Aww. So cute! And no higher praise :-)

Susan R. Mills said...

I know exactly how you feel. My fifteen-year-old daughter reads my work all the time. I know it means diddly squat to the publishing industry, but when she says she like what I've written, it means the world to me. And she is my target audience.

Kelly said...

That's awesome. Children are brutally honest. I've been meaning to have my 10 yr old read my chapter book (it's really not geared for his age, but I know like you said, he'll be honest!). I'm going to have him read it this week!

T. Anne said...

Sounds like you cut the mustard. BTW, I have a son named Drew too. I knew I liked you.

Jackee said...

Definitely high praise and priceless!

I've finally talked my husband into reading my WIP and I love that he'll start making comments about it as if it were a real, pubbed book, as if the characters speak to him as they do to me.

Julie Dao said...

Sherrie, how wonderful! His praise must have felt amazing :)

Yat-Yee said...

I know my nine0year old's opinions matter a lot to me.

Laura Pauling said...

Some kids have a way of pointing out every flaw their mom has - especially on their face. Others, probably don't even notice it.

I'm glad your son liked your work! Always encouraging.

Laura

Solvang Sherrie said...

MeganRebekah: "You're actually funny"--isn't it great to surprise someone who thinks they "know" you?!

Vivian: I couldn't stop smiling for hours :D

Tess: It was great!

Katie: From him, there is no higher praise indeed!

Susan: It is great to know your kids think what you're doing is good.

Kelly: Brutal is right! But some of his early comments helped me make it better :)

T.Anne: Isn't it a fabulous name? Great minds think alike!

Jackee: How wonderful that the characters are as real to him as they are to you! My husband isn't much of a reader unfortunately.

Julie: It did feel amazing. I'm still smiling now!

Yat-Yee: Their opinions mean more than they'll ever know.

Laura: My kids would be the ones to notice every flaw. But in a way, it makes their compliments even more precious :)

Jen Robinson said...

That's very cool, Sherrie! And it doesn't sound like you're falling into that trap of "but my kids like it" at all - you seem to have a clear-eyed view of the whole thing. Congratulations on this important review!

Lady Glamis said...

This is so incredible to hear! My heart melted just reading that. :)

Angie said...

That's so great. I am loving that my boys are old enough to read my stuff now. It's such a thrill. I'm glad to have discovered your blog.

ali said...

I loved it too! I hope I'll get the same reaction from one of my boys one day. Yay for you!

beckylevine.wordpress.com said...

I totally get why agents/editors don't want query letters telling them how much our kids like our books, BUT...we can also tell when they are telling us stuff to make us feeling good and when the reaction is totally honest & from the gut. That comedy one was honest! Yay for you. :)

Niki said...

Lovely post :o) I know it makes me feel good when my 7 yr old laughs at something I have written. She likes to point out her favourite parts.

Lori W. said...

I love this. The Drew Review! The best is you know he really meant it when he said, "You're actually good with the humor." You are right about kids being honest. My sons have no problem saying whether or not a story stinks in their eyes. I think I've seen this book, so I'm gonna agree w/Drew: you ARE good w/the humor.

Lisa and Laura said...

Sometimes kids are the toughest critics. I can't imagine how amazing it must have felt to hear him say those words! Success!

Tricia J. O'Brien said...

Your son gets a gold star. You, too. That story makes me happy.

Sandra Stiles said...

I know that feeling. As a middle school teacher I constantly fill my room with books. (Over 1300) One of my students asked me last year, "The way you like books, why don't you write some that we can read?" I wrote my first (still unpublished) book. I invited a few of my students to read chapters as I finished them. They were great. "This didn't make sense, you said he hated getting up in the morning and then you have him leaping out of bed". The best remark came from one of them who really hated reading. He was reading over his best friend's shoulder and said, "Not bad, I'd buy this". When the age we target gets it then it all seems worth it. My students encourage me to continue to submit it and I will. I'm glad I found your site you have some great information.

Shannon O'Donnell said...

That really is a fabulous feeling. Add to the joy of a positive "review" the joy of hearing your own child giggle, and you have a recipe made in heaven. :-)

kathrynjankowski said...

Out of the mouths of babes . . .

Nice to get affirmation this way.

Mitali Perkins said...

And I thought I was the only Mom who was poked by my sons in the soft and juicy parts! Thanks for sharing this high praise from your boy.

Sharon Mayhew said...

My 13 year old is my first critiquer...and she can be brutal! I feel so good when she says that she liked a certain part of my story or she likes my idea. She is an avid reader and rather brilliant (takes after her father). So, I know how you feel when you get a compliment from your son. :)

Solvang Sherrie said...

Jen: My son is very honest when he doesn't like something so he keeps me clear-eyed!

Glam: Someday you'll get that with Darcy, too :)

Angie: It's great to have kid input as well as a critique group. Thanks for stopping by!

Ali: I hope you do too :)

Becky: I think even before he made the comment, hearing him laugh as he read made me feel great.

Niki: Isn't it great to hear them laugh out loud?

Lori: Thanks *blushes*

LiLa: Someday you guys will get the same reaction from your kids, only your books will actually be in print. Yay!

Tricia: Makes me happy too :)

Sandra: How great to get the encouragement from your students! Keep at it!

Shannon: Made in heaven--yes!

Kathryn: It was a wonderful affirmation.

Mitali: You get the squishy comments, too? *sigh* I'm hoping he grows out of it. Soon. :)

Sharon: Drew's comments early on helped make this story better now. So his compliment was wonderful to hear.

Beth Kephart said...

This is the loveliest story. And I know that nothing ever pleases me more than my own son's mark of approval. Congratulations.

Carrie Harris said...

That's SOOO awesome. You absolutely should be proud of that one! Writing funny isn't as easy as people think, either!

Heidi Willis said...

Thanks for visiting my blog! It's good to have found you!!

I think agents underestimate the critical reading skills of family members! :) Sometimes they are the harshest audience. Especially kids...

Elana Johnson said...

That is awesome! What a great compliment, because you know, being funny takes a lot of intelligence.

You rawk!

Lee Wind said...

Awwwww....
That's so sweet!
and yeah, squishy-squishy-squishy - though you were probably mortified at the time, is actually pretty hysterical. See? You ARE good at humor!
Namaste,
Lee

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