I was asked by two author friends to be a beta reader for their respective books and after many months, I am finally done reading! At first, I was hesitant to do it because there's always that nagging voice in my head saying "You're a sham, not a real writer and you have nothing to contribute." So I stuffed that voice in a gunny sack and dropped it into a deep well and just read. I'm glad I did.
Reading someone else's work allowed me to see some of the things (good and bad) in my own writing that I had been blind to before. Passive voice...telling instead of showing...over-used plot devices...different uses of flashbacks...all of these things in their work helped me reconsider my own.
Their words also rekindled the word furnace in my own mind and I'm itching to get to work on the projects I've abandoned recently. I owe these two writers a big debt of gratitude for the inspiration and competitive itch their books gave me again.
I also got to have that thrill of being one of the first to read something new. It's like a weird little club or some secret I share with maybe 5 other people. As a writer, I know how scary it can be to share a story with someone else, especially if they will be critiquing it. There's a sense of trust there and I'm pretty honored to have had the experience.
Now that I'm done, I wish these two authors (you know who you are) success in the next steps of their books and hope to see future versions of the fresh manuscripts I saw. If you'll excuse me, I've got an ancient vampire that has been waiting on me to bring him to the present.