If a tree falls in the woods, but no one is around to hear it...

Jillian and I on my 25th birthday this year.

Hi friends!

Last night I had a belated Christmas celebration with my best friend, Jillian, and we went to see Black Swan (cheery, right?). Besides being an amazing film, it was probably the most sexually, emotionally, physically graphic movie I've seen in a long time; however, the intensity worked for the thrilling story and, as much as I hate to say it, some of the more squeamish parts were necessary to get the point across. And while it will put you on edge the entire time, I do recommend that you see it (on a side note: prepare yourself for some uncomfortable moments...such as the Mila Kunis/Natalie Portman oral love fest). But I am no Roger Ebert...so let's get to the topic of today's post!

I brought up my friend, Jillian, because she has always been enthusiastic about my writing. After we exchanged gifts and returned to my apartment in the city (late night McDonald's snack in tow), we sat on the couch and talked about my novel, among other things. Jillian has read most of my first novel (if you haven't visited me here at ABC before, I wrote about 100,000 words on one novel but have never finished it) and she loved it. It is centered very tightly around my own experiences in college, and my efforts to navigate relationships, a group of friends who became more like family, classes, and the newfound independence that comes with moving out of your parent's home. It is autobiographical, but I'd like to call it creative non-fiction...or even fiction for that matter. My creative writing professor, Peter Christopher (R.I.P.), always said once something is written down it becomes fiction. Either way, it's full of things that my friends would recognize as truth, and plenty of other material that was inspired by reality but completely made up. When I got to the subject of my newest novel, Jillian, after demanding to know why she hadn't had a chance to read it, asked me what it was actually about. When I responded, her eyes lit up from behind with a certain kind of glee (which made me want to puff out my chest a little bit, I'm not gonna lie) and said:

"Legs (her nickname for me...I'm very tall and she has a hard time keeping up), I want to READ this book!"

If you knew Jillian, you would know why this was so important. She does not bullsh*t. She does not play games. If she thinks something looks bad or isn't going to work, she says so...believe me. When my wedding dress didn't fit me right and I asked her if it looked bad she said, "Well, I can tell it's too big in the front. But you're getting married so who cares?"

So if Jillian didn't think the premise of my novel sounded like a story worth reading, I would have been able to see it on her face before she said a word.

Agents and publishers will tell you (via their blogs or their rejection letters...whatever the case may be) that you need a trained eye to read your work. Friends and family do not count, unless they happen to be editors. And while this is absolutely true, I also think it's important to let the people closest to you in on your work because it's people like them who will support and encourage your efforts...and it's people like them who will be standing in the aisle at Barnes and Noble reading the back cover and thinking "Do I want to buy this?" They are by no means the final say-so during the writing process, but I believe their encouragement can be a great tool to push you forward on a project you might have stopped believing in.

In my case, Jillian's words have made me eager this morning to boot up my laptop and hammer out the final edits.



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