Out of the Nest

It’s time. Time to push my chick out of the nest. For more than a year I have been putting words together to tell a story, and now it’s time to see what other people think about it.

One of the things I love about writing is that I get to hear the story first. There is no one else on the planet who knows this story but me. How cool is that? Then again, maybe it’s a story nobody wants to know. That is what I’m about to find out. It’s time to share. It’s time to see if anybody else thinks this is a good story.

I’m relieved to have a large part of the work done. In fact, until I start getting feedback, there is nothing more for me to do. But, behind the relief is terror. What if nobody likes it? What if I’ve done all this work for nothing? What if the characters I have loved so much, die a quick death right along with all the much loved screenplay characters I’ve created over the years. What if I have to face the fact that I will never have a writing career?

What if, what if, what if? Why are my thoughts never filled with things like – What if they love it? What if it’s a best seller? What if I have a contract to write the rest of the series? No, my brain never goes there.

Now that the major writing is done, one thing I’m looking forward to is rebuilding a bit of a social life. In the past few months, as I worked hard to finish up the book, I have let myself become reclusive on the weekends. This writing/social balance thing is one I’m still fine tuning. There have been times I have gotten out of balance the other way. I’m beginning to learn to recognize the emotional cues telling me I am out of balance, I’m just not always so good at finding it again.

I’m also looking forward to long afternoons, reading in my hammock.

But today, after a long day of editing and finally printing, and no hammock time whatsoever, there are 4 printed copies of my book on the floor behind me. It’s a weird feeling, both good and bad at the same time. It’s time to see if my chick flies, or tumbles out of the tree.

Oh boy…

 

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Feedback Fear

Whew! Tonight was the night. It was the writer’s group where my first two chapters were critiqued. If you’re not a writer, and you’ve never had your work reviewed, you will not understand the exquisite agony of having your precious child put on display for judgment. I desperately wanted feedback, but it also set off waves of fear. Maybe I’m talentless. Maybe my idea is crap. Maybe it’s boring. Maybe it’s confusing. Maybe this whole leap is a fool’s errand.

Luckily for me, this group is made up of people who also understand these fears, and they are exceptionally kind, while giving lots of notes. So helpful!

The feedback was great. Everyone found it enjoyable, liked the pacing and flow, as well as the characters and dialogue. Since those are some pretty core necessities for a good book, I am pleased. Everyone had questions about what comes next, which indicates they were invested in the story. All good signs.

However, from previous feedback, I knew the story had a weakness and that was confirmed tonight. 25 years of focusing on writing screenplays has left me with a few weaknesses. Probably the biggest weakness is description. Screenwriters do not spend a lot of time describing the appearance of people or places, because that is stepping on the director’s creative toes. A screenwriter might write, “Interior – classroom” and that is all that is writen about what the room looks like, unless you need to describe the additional presence of some prop that is important to the story. That doesn’t really work in a novel. The reader may be the creative director, but they need a little more information to complete the picture. So, I need to spend more time on description of time, place, and scenery.

Because this novel is set in a unique world, yet still has many similarities to ours, it can cause a great deal of confusion to the reader. When is it? Where is it? Is this Earth? Is this the future? I had gotten this feedback from people who weren’t familiar wtih the genre, and tonight was the first opportunity for feedback from people who DID know the genre. I got the same note. To be honest, figuring out if this truly was a problem or not, was most of what i hoped to learn tonight, and i did. Success! I think a prologue of some sort will be needed in order to set the stage. Combining that with more description, I think the problem can be solved.

It was also delightful to hear someone say, “I loved this line” and then reel off something I also loved. I actually got chills a few times.

So all in all, a great night. I successfully handled both praise and criticism and walked out of the room feeling more confident than I went in. I have read the manuscripts of a few of the other writers, and they are a talented group of people, so their desire to read more felt like high praise.

There was also an exciting bit of business. The woman who invited me into the group has a novel coming out any day now, and she is starting her own publishing company. When this book gets done, there will be someone I know personally that may be able to help me get it out there. That is so very exciting. The publishing world can feel like a confusing maze, and maybe I’ll have a guide to help me through.

It really is true, everything you want is on the other side of fear. I made it through my feedback fear and am now able to improve my work even more. It was a good night in this writer’s world.

 

 

 

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