Friday, August 15, 2008

Bruised

So far I haven't blogged about writing. On most days there's really nothing to write about. People ask me how the books going, and I say "okay." Most days that's how it goes. This week has been another story.

See, there's this book. A not ready for prime-time novel. I know it's not ready, because it's not finished. Oh, I finished a first draft. I have written 500+ pages of this book, but it needs a rewrite...at least one. But....last winter, when I was deluded enough to think it was going to be finished it looked likely that I was going to have it finished by April, I signed up for an appointment to pitch it to an agent. As it got closer, I realized I wasn't going to have the rewrite finished by then, but I allowed myself to be convinced to pitch it anyway. As practice. As those things go, I guess it went well. The agent requested the first 50 pages. I sent it. I haven't heard back from her yet, despite a follow-up but that's how things go in publishing.

That same weekend I "won" a critique by another major industry agent. It was a door prize. At the time I thought it was the best thing, since it would put my work in front another agent. Well, this past weekend I received the critique.

Before I go any further, I was told it was a critique of the first three chapters. Not the first fifty pages. Because I included a "prologue" which was a whopping page and a half, she chose not to read the third chapter. Of course she didn't understand what was going on, or how the prologue tied into the rest of the book. All that comes together in chapter three. Maybe my chapters are too long. Maybe the fact that the conversion from Wordperfect to Word changed the spacing and increased the page count by 30%. Maybe I should have taken the time to fix all that.

Maybe its me. Maybe I need to grow a thicker skin? However, in the past when I've found myself thinking I needed to grow a thicker skin, it turned out that the situation turned out to be abusive. I'm not saying this agent was abusive. In fact, she told me in a subsequent email that I had a lot of talent, which was why she took the time to give me such an indepth critique.

Wait, I thought that was the point of the prize? That it was an in depth critique. I'm confused. What I know is that, on the basis of the critique, I drastically changed the my plan for the book. In fact, I started from Chapter One, Page One. Again. I wrote a new first chapter. It sucked. My pre-publication reader told me she felt bereft because I'd dropped all the good stuff out.

Which is what brought me up short. The last time I'd gotten a harsh critique, I did the same thing. I stopped what I was doing, went back to the beginning, and rewrote the first chapter....AND IT SUCKED. When I get hurt and/or scared, I lose my voice. I start trying to write well - to write for the reader, instead of from my heart. I realized that what I'm trying to do is not feel the pain of getting a harsh critique. It hurts, damn it.

I re-read the critique today, for the first time since receiving it on Saturday. There was a lot I was able to tell about the reader from the comments. That was helpful too. It helps take the sting out of some it.

My job, is to take a step back and let it all settle for a bit. Let the comments settle. Let my emotions settle. So, I'm going to take a break. I'm going to a fiber retreat next week. In the meanwhile, I'm not going to work on the book....at all. I'm going to take really good care of my inner artist.

Tonight is knit night at Beau Knits. I'm going. I will spend the weekend helping a friend move, maybe....if it's dry...helping Tina skirt fleece (if that's still the plan) I'm going to spin, I'm going to knit, I'm going to read. I'm going to recharge my soul.

Sigh.



3 comments:

Linda said...

Sounds like you have it figured out and are choosing to have a great weekend. I on the other hand will be watching TS FAy to see where it will go and how strong it will get. And trying to get Colin and Alicia out of here on Sunday on their way to Denmark. Stress or what, I put myself right in the middle of it. I hope soon I can hang with you :-)
LOve you , LInda

Liz said...

Good for you - you're taking good care of yourself! You'll have a much better perspective after you've immersed yourself in all the things you love to do to relax.

Tina M. said...

You'll get your groove back, I have every faith in you.