It's my turn to be a beta reader, and I'm enjoying the next draft of a book I've seen develop since its early incarnations on the MA. Being able to hand my book over to readers who are able to stand back and take a critical view - and are confident enough to be honest - was a real gift. I hope I can be helpful, too.
If there's one thing blogging has done for me that I didn't expect, it's to connect with so many people trying to achieve the same goal. Fellow writers, all scrambling for the same limited resource, a publishers' attention and a contract. Yet the spirit of support and co-operation is astonishing. Writers dig into their imaginations, into their very selves, and they connect on a deep level. I will probably meet very few of the people I meet online, yet they have been instrumental in my development as a writer. I started my blog thinking it would just be me, and it would be a record of my growth as a writer (partly to draw on for those pesky rationales and essays). It has become so much more. It's partly therapy, as a whinge (sorry) about dead ends, lack of motivation, lack of confidence. It's partly celebration as I master new skills, travel outside my comfort zone, and have little successes along the way. But mostly, it's to connect with other writers. I can't imagine not blogging, and hope some day I can use the blog to publicise an actual novel.
Meanwhile, reading other people's work gives me the inspiration to keep going, keep trying to get better. It's a journey, and reading is a guide along the way. I think you often pick up things other people do, that you should watch out for in your own work. Back to work. I'm at 17k with the contemporary strand, which is very satisfying.