I’m about to enter the unforgiving EDITS-ONLY DIMENSION where creativity is chained in a prison of spell-checking, grammar-checking, word-checking tedium. And it's a mystery when I'll emerge from this dreadful den of despair. This dark and dreary place is where months of creating, conspiring, deliberating, and inspiration come to a head with feedback from my FIRST READER like, “I just don’t like the way this sounds” or “Not much happens in this chapter. Can you put in another murder or something?” or “I think I missed something” or (and I LOVE this one) “I don’t get it.”
In my fantasies, I imagine the FIRST READER of my books to be so in love with what I’ve written that he gushes with adoration, holds the manuscript up to the heavens Simba-style and tears up gratefully at the notion that he saw it first and had a hand in it - this great and awesome thing.
Never happens that way.
While I have, on occasion, heard him chuckle, he’s not one for gushing of any kind. And even though he’s always complementary, it’s hard not to feel discouraged when he breaks out his lengthy list of things I did wrong.
So begins the EDITS-ONLY DIMENSION. So ends whatever fun or confidence I had while writing.
But, that’s the way these things have to work.
The first stings of criticism are like needles hitting skin. They hurt! But, ALWAYS, after the pain wears off and I think about what’s been said, the writing ends up better for it. In Luna-Sea, I ended up trashing something like ten final chapters because my First Reader didn’t think the actions fit my characters. Boy, was I pissed!
But, upon reflection, I realized, with chagrin, that he was completely right. I’d bulldozed my characters for the sake of a quick and easy ending. The revised ending was SO MUCH BETTER!
So, on the cusp of entering the EDITS-ONLY DIMENSION for my third Delilah Duffy novel and my other project, Adam, I’m fearful of the inevitable discouragement that comes when the focus is on what’s wrong.
I spotted this timely verse in the Bible:
If you listen to constructive criticism, you will be at home among the wise. Proverbs 15:31.
In other words, if I'm smart, I’ll get over yourself and pay attention to what’s wrong.
Besides, “constructive” criticism is meant to build you up, not tear me down.
A long weekend looms. Days spent in the dark caves of line-by-line critiquing. But, there’s light waiting at the end and hopefully, a better story.