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Aug 31

If You’ve Been a Beta Reader, And Even If You Haven’t, You Might Like This

My buddy Robin Rotham wrote this poem in December 2012 and I’d never seen it. She tweeted about it tonight when some people were talking about losing documents or big chunks of manuscript.

The Night Before Deadline

’Twas the night before deadline, when all through the land,
Not a muscle was stirring but those in my hands.
The dishes were stacked in the sink without care,
In hopes that I’d notice them moldering there.

The children were quiet—I hoped in their beds—
While scenes from my manuscript whirled in my head.
And Papa in our bedroom, since I was still gone,
Was doomed once again to have sex all alone.

When low on my screen there arose an alert.
That gave me a massive adrenaline spurt.
I sprang to my browser and then to my emails,
Clicked open my inbox to get all the details.

And what to my dry gritty eyes should appear
But a note from a friend that confirmed my worst fear.
The draft that I’d sent her, to read and to crit,
Was what I’d suspected—a huge pile of shit.

The much-needed truth of her kindly meant words
Gave a luster of tears to my eyes as they blurred.
For a moment I saw only looming calamity—
Abysmal reviews and resultant insanity!

More helpful than ever, my crit partners came,
They parsed out my problems and called them by name—
“Not sexy! Too boring! The opening drags,
The characters cardboard, the middle, it sags!

From the opening hook, to the very last line,
Rewrite it! Just do it! You still have the time!”
As dry heaves that before the real puke starts to fly,
When I met with disaster, I started to cry;

But to the first chapter, my fingers they flew
My brain full of terror, and fortitude, too.
And in just a few hours, my book became lean,
With the slicing and dicing of each awful scene.

As I sunk in my head and was digging around,
Down the pike, my sadistic muse came with a bound
He was finally ready to share what he knew
But had kept to himself just to see me unglued.

A string of ideas began to attack,
And I wrote like a demon and never looked back.
The sex, how it sizzled! The conflict, how frazzling!
The humor so quirky, the emotions so dazzling!

When I dared to delete all the back story dumps,
The pacing began to improve in great jumps.
I carved out the details the flab had concealed,
And the heart of my story was finally revealed.

It had a fine plot, and two drool-worthy heroes
Who, after I fixed them, were no longer zeroes.
’Twas a little less kinky than most on my shelf,
But I squirmed when I read it in spite of myself.

The words of my crit partners after they’d read
Soon gave me relief from the feelings of dread.
They offered me kudos for all my hard work
So kindly, I felt a bit less like a jerk.

And after an edit that gave it a shine,
I had it formatted and put it online.
I dropped into bed to catch up on some sleep,
The dishes could wait and the promo would keep.

If there’s one thing I learned from this very close call—
Christmas books should be written long before fall!

That’s just pure genius right there.

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