Freedom as a Result of Critique

Back to work!

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This week I have my nose pressed deeply in the pages of my manuscript WISE JIM AND THE EXPATRIATES. After months out in the wild being critiqued by an agent (squee!) she has returned for the next wave of revisions.

I have to say, sending my book out for a full critique was really scary. It was like a slice of my soul was being presented for judgment all by itself.  I discovered a little bit about myself over the course of these months (control freak).

Not so secretly, I was very worried that I would get a kind yet unforgiving letter back from said agent announcing that my manuscript had been selected for removal from the world’s consciousness and that she, as a representative of all that is good in the publishing world, was doing me a favor by printing it out and promptly tossing it sacrifice-style to be devoured whole by Offal Maximus, the Volcano God of the First-Novel. #truestory

The reality is quite different.  Page after page of comments and notes about my story, my writing, and my ideas have reignited my passion for my book. Somewhere along the wait, I have let go of the tight heart-grip I had on each and every word on my pages and now I really WANT to revise them. All of them.

Something else that stood out to me was a statement along the lines of: “if you choose to follow this advice…”  That resonated in my head (is still singing to me) about how critique is not a mandate for change. Yes, sometimes I need to look over things that might be wrong with my writing, especially when more than one person has pointed it out to me. But on the whole it is up to me to make a change, to tweak or remove something, or to keep it as is.

When my book was in its early drafts, I had four chapters that I ended up cutting on the advice of an agent I had queried. I took this advice to heart and chopped out the first 50 pages of my book and started with a bang instead.  Every one of my beta readers since has asked me why I took out those pages they loved. All I could say was that the advice was to get to the action sooner.  Now I am not sure that was a wise choice. The good news… I can add them back and work them in again.  Wish me luck!

The ability to look at my work without being so emotionally tied to it that I am blind to its faults seems to have lifted.  I cannot wait to make this manuscript even better.  There is a kernel of fresh creative freedom in there somewhere, all because of critique.

Yippee!

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