Friday, July 3, 2009

The subjective voices of critters

Something has been bugging me for a long time now. How do we know who to trust and when to make changes when revising? Sometimes the voices of others can get overwhelming. There are opinions from members in our critique groups and from the professionals we meet during critiques at conventions, writers retreats, workshops, and classes.

One editor told me to remove a huge chunk from one of my stories and begin someplace else. I didn't agree.

My question, or should I say dilemma is, when is enough truly enough? If I had listened to one, my story would have begun at a place I didn't think sounded strong enough. It didn't belong to the character I believed should start the story. How did I know? I listened and I felt. The little nagging voice we call "instinct" began shouting "No!" My stomach clenched and I knew something was wrong. This was my story, they were my characters. So I wound up taking a 'forced' break from that story. I worked on other things during the interim and lost time working on that story.

But I was still bothered by that suggestion. I think my unhappiness settled somewhere along my brows. Or along my shoulders. I carried it around with me.

With revising we have to look and consider: does this suggestion enhance my work or not? If it doesn't or if something inside of you disagrees, pay attention. I finally did, after a few months of agonizing, debating and second guessing myself.

During a different critique recently, with another editor, I was told to start my story the way I originally had (I had submitted my MS with the 'newer' beginning and pushed back the 'original' one directly after.) Yes! I felt vindicated.

Sometimes these differing views are enough to make me want to pull my hair out or scream in a large, empty room.

I listened, as I always do, and I submitted something I didn't feel comfortable with. Hearing someone I respect tell me to begin the way I had reinforced faith and trust in myself. From now on I have to do what I think is best for my WIP. This one editor "got" my story, understood what I was doing. That is the kind of person I want to work with. Some will not understand and that's okay. I have now learned.

I work with wonderful people, some truly talented writers, in the groups I belong to. I have made friendships I value immensely. I have also met (and continue to meet) some fantastic people in the publishing field and college teachers.

This experience has proven worthwhile. Now I understand that I have to be selective with suggestions in conjunction to my own feelings. As with the writing process itself, it takes patience, stamina and hard work to combine the two into a happy marriage of sorts.

Okay, now back to writing.

No comments:

Post a Comment