A few months ago I heard Holly Black, author of Tithe and the Spiderwick Chronicles say that being a writer was the loneliest of jobs. She pointed out that even in the most regimented of cubical infested offices you at least have the knowledge that on the other side of that cloth and Styrofoam wall is another living breathing human being.
As writers, often times we do work in a situation of isolation second to almost no other profession. Unless you are part of a team, you write alone, edit alone, revise alone and in many cases suffer the pain of rejections alone. It can sometimes be hard for a non-writing significant other or family member to get it. They pat you on the back and say, "It's okay. Just write something else," or some other inane but well meaning thing.
This makes the contacts we form with other writers and with our readers vitally important. Finding a first or beta reader is a difficult job for a writer. You can't simply ask a friend. What if your friend isn't into paranormal romance and you've just whipped out the worlds best were-opossum story ever to be seen? Your friend isn't into fantasy, and you've just finished world building the most amazing place filled with dragons and fairy-folk? You've written the best CSI type murder mystery and your friend can't even spell forensics, let alone understand the science.
I have to admit I’m lucky. I belong to an online workshop that lets me put my work up for critique. The workshop is fairly diverse and we have writers, poets and artists. Some write for fun and some are more serious. But having that support is important. My first novel, Access Denied, would never have been finished if not for the support of some members of that group who kept prodding me to keep going. Don’t tell their husbands, but they all admitted that they had fallen in love with my hero, James, and were going to make sure I finished it.
My current work in progress is about two chapters and an epilogue away from being finished. What is done is in the hands of two very special betas, my SO and a friend of mine named Steve. Steve is the king of grammar and punctuation. He's also the one who tells me when my male character is acting very male. My SO is the one who reads it and tells me where it doesn’t make sense. “But why would he use magic? Wouldn't it just be easier to walk over and set the table?”