Thursday, 22 August 2013

Having Someone Critique Your Words

Image: BrainlessTales.com
It's been a while since I've written about my NaNo project. That's because it's been a while since I've looked at it. My schedule is keeping my quite busy and I just don't have any time to write for pleasure, let alone go over my manuscript once more, just in case I have a brainwave that'll make everything magically perfect.

So when the chance presented itself to offer my novel(ish) to someone for a critiquing, I thought: why not. Seriously. I've gone over it, I'm a bit stuck and I'm pressed for time anyway. I know it isn't perfect, I am aware that it might never be a publishable book in the sense that it's too bland or unoriginal, but anything I can learn from it, will teach me how to write my next story. Right?

At first I was terrified. I didn't receive any response right away, and even though my lovely reader probably has a life of her own with an equally busy schedule, the first thought is: OMG, it really is that bad...

I asked her for a smallish update, just to tell me if she'd even gotten round to it (and it was that awful) of if she'd just been busy. Well, she did have a lot on her plate, but she also said that there would be A LOT OF NOTES coming my way.

For a day or so, I was peeved. I know I hadn't given it another read-through before e-mailing it to her, but you do still assume that your creation, your baby, your document full of words is nearly perfect. (You can look at me cross-eyed all you like, but you know you feel that same inkling of confidence underneath the mountains of self-doubt.) So when someone reading through your work says there will be a lot of notes, you're startled. You get defensive. You go into a 'yeah, but...' mode.

A few days later, however, I changed my mind. Whatever she could say about my novel(ish) would help me make it better. Would help me in creating a new piece, whenever time and inspiration allows me. I'm not a full-time writer, I know that there was some essential ingredient of excitement missing in my text, and I did already admit I was a bit stuck. So... anything she can say about it will either help me or help me think about it, or if it's really nonsense I can ignore it. Yes, that is a luxury I can afford as well. There's no publisher waiting to smack me over the head with a deadline, after all. Not in this case, anyway.

So yeah. It's exciting. In a nerve-wrecking final exam kind of way. And I'm actually quite curious what she might say or suggest. Is the whole idea even viable as a novel or is there no way I can turn it into a less predictable story? (I mean, I've been working on a book that's anything but surprising and actually long-winded and a bit dreadfully written, and that made it to a publisher and out into the world...) Would my future free time be better spent on a second attempt, or is this just a diamond in the really rough (it's an expression, I for one doubt that Feather's story is a diamond to begin with. Maybe a more common stone...)?

I'll keep you posted. Meanwhile... (do you also always see Fran Drescher's Nanny in your mind's eye when you use that word, going all nasal on you?) I have a translation to finish. More than one, even. So... Ta!

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