I have been bouncing in my chair cheerfully, grinning ear-to-ear for about an hour now. Why? Because I just got the very first full set of comments from one of my beta readers. I was crazy nervous about this, both because letting other people read your stuff is scary but also because this was kind of the make-or-break moment, wasn't it?
The first person to read this close-to-final draft. The point by which I'd done massive amounts of rewriting already, added and deleted characters and changed entire portions of the story, plot points, motivations. If the story still didn't work for my readers, I probably would have panicked.
And there's no guarantee - I may still have to panic, depending on what others say. But for now, it seems I am safe! My beta reader was hugely complimentary and gave me lovely notes, things she loved but also brilliant, succinct ideas on how to tweak the things she didn't - and those tweaks are small and pretty fast and relatively easy, considering the huge labor pains that involved rewriting this novel in the first place.
(Say it with me: If I got through that second draft, I can get through anything.)
Another writer friend - one who is quite busy with her own writing and quickly becoming Quite A Big Deal in her own right - also reached out today and offered to read my query.
I am floored by the outpouring of support from my friends and community. 10 months ago, I did not have a single writer friend. Today, I am so very blessed to be surrounded by some of the most amazing people I've ever met.
I know I've said this before, but it really can't be said enough: Having a community, as writers, is so important. I never would have kept my sanity, let alone gotten as far as I have, if it weren't for writer-friends, the internet on which we hang out, and the Twitter on which we congregate.