Why you should never ask a loved one to critique your writing. Extract from Written Off.
Feb 27 2016
Con had purposefully avoided asking Rosie what she thought about the book as she spent the best part of a week, every evening after work and at the weekend, studiously reading his manuscript. Her face gave nothing away as she turned the pages. Then, at 7pm on the Sunday night, she placed the final sheet on the pile of inverted pages to denote she’d finished and said, ‘There. Done.’
Con, who was making a show of preparing their evening meal at the time, tossed the potato peeler on to the kitchen work surface and jumped into the chair opposite her. ‘You’ve finished it? What do you think?’
Rosie gathered her thoughts and tried to select her words carefully. ‘It’s not what I’d imagined.’
‘Not what you’d imagined? What does that mean?’
‘It’s not what I thought it was going to be like, that’s all. It’s a bit more “out there” then I’d pictured it.’
‘It’s meant to be “out there” – that’s the whole bloody point. But did you like it?’ implored Con.
Again Rosie searched for the correct response. ‘It’s difficult reading something by somebody you know. It makes it harder to be objective. Yes, I liked it.’
Con knew what she really meant. ‘You’re just saying that. You hated it.’
“Don’t be silly, Con. I did enjoy it. It’s very clever and, … it’s different. Different is good if you’re going to get published, isn’t it?’
Con felt his world shrink to the size of the potato he still held in his hand. ‘So you think it’s crap, basically. “If” I’m going to get published?’
Rosie tried to mollify her over-anxious partner but only seemed to fan the flames. ‘It’s a good book, Con. I liked it, honestly. It’s intellectual, it’s dense and I…’
‘“Dense”?’ screamed Con. ‘“Dense”?’ He flung the white tuber in his hand at the wall above her head, dislodging a photograph of the two of them taken at last year’s Glastonbury Festival. The frame and glass shattered and crashed to the stripped pine floorboards. ‘Well, thanks a lot, Rosie, for your keen literary insight. I should have known better than to ask someone who reads Twilight for relaxation.’