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Monday, June 13, 2011

Writing Group - Rug Pulled Out From Under You


When someone says that they've had the rug pulled out from under them, they generally mean that someone has done something, some mean or tricky thing, that has put them off their footing. They feel betrayed by this literal upset.

I don't feel betrayed at all, though, I look down and the rug that was there is gone.

I met with my Bucks County Writers Group compatriots on Saturday. When I tell you that there's not much else (except maybe a new season of True Blood, or the last Harry Potter movie) that I look forward to as much as our monthly meetings, I'm not exaggerating. I love talking shop with them, hearing their opinions and awesome (so insightful) pointers for my book. I love talking about their submissions and getting into the nitty gritty of meaning and craft.

But this Saturday I got told things I didn't know, things that came so out of left field that the rug-pulling practically gave me whip lash. You know when the thing you think you're doing is not the thing that can actually be experienced by the reader? Yup, that's what happened to me.

One big surprise is that I'm not done writing. I seem to be one of those rare writers who actually has to add some fat in instead of trimming it out. I've left too much to the imagination. I've shown too much and need to tell more.

But the biggest bombshell came from Greg, who said he could stop where he's reading right now (about 250 pages) and it would make sense for him for it to be the end of the first book. That this book could be split into two books. Bleeeewww my mind. He also said that a section that I have taking place in four chapters, over a period of eight weeks, could be expanded. Like to take up a whole year. They he got his crazy on and said, "Well, it's an alternate world, why do their seasons have to be like ours?"

I know I looked like a truck hit me, and I think they were a little panicked at my slack-jawed expression. It's not that they're wrong, it's just that there's so much to think about, sort through. I admit, I'm enough of a control freak that this bothers me. I thought I was 'done.' What's more, I thought I was close to 'really done.' I like neat and I like finished. This felt like the end of my web was unwinding.

Trying really hard not to be negative and look at all this as a big positive (and it was, they're insights for the most part, are dead on). Trying not to panic and just absorb, percolate. Trying.

What's the biggest 'upset' you've gotten from writing feedback? How did you handle it?

7 comments:

  1. It can be super scary to receive writing feedback. I was in a seminar last year, and it seemed like every week was another chance for my writing to get blown apart. I would only remind you that you, the author, get final creative say. If the feedback you received doesn't jive with you, keep doing as you've been doing and ask for advice again when you're further along.

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  2. I've thought I was "done" a few times now. But, uh, someone smarter than me always points out a few things that need attention. Feedback is a wonderful thing. :)

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  3. It's your work, so any changes are up to you. But there's a lot we don't see as the writer. It's easier to make adjustments now than later when a publisher rejects it, or even worse, a reviewer slays it. So think it over and change what YOU want to change.
    And I'm a bare bones writer, so it's nice to meet someone else who needs to add instead of trim!

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  4. @Alex, so glad to hear of another writer that is a 'sketcher' - filling in instead of filing down. Even when I was making art, painting and sculpting, it was the same way. Just the way I create I guess. Maybe it has something to do with our first names ;)

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  5. Just remember that opinions are different from person to person. I don't think it's ever a good idea to rewrite based on one or even a couple of people's feedback. The story is yours and only you know the best way to tell it.

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  6. Sounds like you have one heck of a writing group! i know it stinks to get feedback that sometimes you may not even want, but if you think (after all it is your masterpiece so if doesn't feel right what people say that don't change it) it could make your story better than stew like you are and then go at it again.
    World building is so hard because it can go so many different ways...but it doesn't have to so follow your heart. Just what you said here though, your book sounds fabuloso!

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