After writing Of the North all in one month, I knew two things: first, that it had more potential for getting published than either of my two previous novels; and secondly, that it needed a lot of work. I had exchanged stories with Hope several times before, for beta-reading, but this time I thought I might try something different (though she got to read it too). For as small as my church is, it has a surprisingly high percentage of writers (of poetry or prose), and we had recently discovered this fact and formed a sort of group for the purpose of sharing our work. For the times we couldn’t meet in person, we had a mostly private blog, and it was on that blog that I posted Of the North a chapter at a time. The members of the group would comment with their observations or criticism, which I would make note of, and use or not, depending.
When they’d read the entire story and given me their thoughts on it as a whole, I did some more tweaking things and then gave it to a professor of mine who’d expressed interest. He had very good criticism, which meant not only picking holes in the majority of the story and pointing out things I should have seen all along (as a certain chapter which served no purpose in the narrative whatsoever), but several compliments to the writing that still make me grin — if I can still decipher the handwriting. Sometimes he’d circle or underline a sentence and draw a line to the margin, but leave no note there, so it got terribly confusing: did he mean this spot was good, or bad? Unnecessary?
The beta-reading process proper ended in May, by which time Wind Age had taken over, and though during the summer I’d pull it out and try to do something with it, that never got very far. Partly that was because Wind Age had, as I said, taken over; partly because now I was seeing all the flaws in my story and wondering where on earth to start; partly because I knew I had to start with a certain character, who has to do with emotions, which is hard; and partly because I was stuck in the world of Wind Age now and that meant being in the early seventh century A. D., which has a rather different mood. I still intend to actually work on it at some point, because I still believe it has promise. . . but good intentions unfortunately don’t get things done on their own most of the time.