I sent Project #2 to someone for editing/beta-reading July 27th, and have not yet received comments back... other than confirmation that the person received it.
Last week, I also sent Project #2 to a long-time writing buddy from NaNoWriMo (I use a different moniker on there). I've beta-read her projects many, many times, but this is the first time we're doing a full swap. MS for MS. I've already read two previous versions of the MS she just sent me, though she's never read even close to a full MS-sized piece of my own writing.
And I admit I'm feeling a little bit vulnerable right now.
Now, I'm not saying I don't trust either of the two people I've sent it to... the friend from NaNo, I think I've known for about six years, and having such an established relationship with an online beta-reader is an awesome thing, but it does take different *trust-muscles* than when you hand it over to a writing group you meet with in real life (which I do, and they shredded version 1.0 of Project #2 way back in February).
When you meet and have your work shredded in real life, you have the chance to talk, clear up any misunderstandings that may arise due to the MS itself, or to your CP's impressions/comments on it. Also, when meeting in real life, you have the chance to talk about your story before your partners actually read it... so they go into it with pre-formed ideas of what you were trying to accomplish, backstory that never made it onto the page, or even some of the twists and turns that would surprise an online CP without that prior knowledge.
When working exclusively online with someone, you don't get the benefit of asking them to clarify a comment that sounds completely wrong, or seems overly insulting/harsh. I think most people are aware of this and tend to err on the side of polite/vague when conversing through email. It's harder to feel out someone who asks you to be brutal and honest... so you juggle how brutal and honest to be, and sometimes they get angry and never even respond or thank you for your time and effort. The relationship and boundaries are such so much muddier online...
Now, I like this particular writing friend because she's about as ruthless about honesty as I am. She'll disagree, she'll argue, but she'll never get angry at someone for telling the truth, and I'm the same way. I know she'll point out every last thing she dislikes about my writing, not only the more objective/technical stuff, but her personal thoughts/feelings while reading it. And I appreciate getting that personal/reader reaction.
Whenever I read writing samples on people's sites, I am always honest. If something jumps out at me, good or bad, I'm going to point it out. I'll never post a generic, meaningless comment.
I think this may irritate some people, but I do it anyways, 'cause it's how I show my respect to their writing... by taking it seriously.
When I'm reading *good* writing, I forget that I am reading, which is why I will point anything that jumps out... if it jumps out, usually it's because there's something wrong... like a word repeated too often within a paragraph, an awkward sentence that may sound nice, but doesn't flow properly or has a word or two that feels clunky. I hope other people will be as ruthless with my own writing samples because that's how I'll learn to write better. No one's perfect, especially when evaluating their own writing. I can recognize many problems/habits in my own work, and that's only because someone has taken the time to point them out to me.
But it's still scary to have all your faults laid out in front of you like a collection of dead insects. Even butterflies are pretty gross if you get right down and look at them carefully... especially their mouths... you just don't realize how ugly the problems in your story are until someone sticks them under a microscope and points them out, one by one.
...so, while I am truly looking forward to the masochistic pleasure of having my work shredded by her, I'm also feeling insecure. How bad is the damage? Will she find something that's so huge I can't fix it? Is that the reason I haven't heard back from the person I sent it to on July 27? Did they also find something horrible but are holding back on telling me?
At least with this particular writer friend, I know she'll tell me if she finds anything major... in her email, she actually said, "Since I'm not going to show mercy, I don't expect any mercy on mine."
Do you guys feel insecure when you send off your own work to beta-readers? Do you feel the same for online CP's versus real life CP's? Are there any other things you stress about when sending work to out for people to read/evaluate?