Monday, June 20, 2011

Incoming! Preparing for criticism, looking forward to sharing

I’m almost ready to open myself up for attack – did I say attack? I meant constructive criticism – on my draft of the sequel to Storm Surge. As soon as I’d finished final revisions on Storm Surge, I began writing the next book.

And now that the second Jonie Waters mystery is at a place where I’m fairly pleased with it, I’m tentatively excited to hear back from the few readers I trust to point out my most obvious failures, the huge holes in the plot that my readers’ suspensions of disbelief can’t possibly bridge. And, of course, they’ll come back at me with more feedback than just pointing out my writing’s glaring gaps in logic. As always, I find myself nervous and excited. What will they find? Will they laugh at the jokes I’ve planted? Will my first few chapters suck them in? Will they love the last few paragraphs as much as I do?

Finally, I’ll have some folks to discuss my work with after I’ve kept it from them for months and months! That’s what I’m most looking forward to: finally, I can talk about what I’ve been working on for so long with readers – even if those readers are just my trusty, tell-it-like-it-is husband and my sweet, try-to-take-over-the-dialogue-and-make-it-more-sexy mother. Both are great readers (for different reasons), but I’ve learned I can’t share my writing with anyone – not even them – too early. If I do, sharing can bring sudden death to the project.

Sharing: I’ll be so entranced with an idea or an aspect of my writing, and I’ll try to discuss it, and the person across from me will give me the look. The look of the person who doesn’t “get” it (and probably rightfully so as my verbal explanation garbles the translation). Sometimes the person with the look will respond to my descriptions of my work-in-progress by beginning sentences with, “Maybe you should…” or “I don’t know about…” And self-doubt will instantly overshadow my enthusiasm. Or I’ll be frustrated that someone else isn’t infused with the same excitement I feel. I’ll wonder if it’s not just my description of my writing that’s at fault but the writing/idea itself. And I’ll be tempted to abandon the project and begin anew.

So I keep my work under wraps until it’s ready to share in its intended format: printed out on a sheet of paper – or, in my Storm Surge sequel’s case, a ream of paper. And then if the written version doesn’t captivate my reader… then I’ve got problems. But by then, I’m also invested enough in it not to scrap it entirely. Regardless, more revision work is coming my way, and soon!

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