So, I wrote this thing.
An entirely new thing for me.
New genre; new(ish) form.
I read it to my husband and he got teary. Praise ensued.
I figured this masterpiece should be sent to my agent STAT.
Sell it! I’d cry. Make me famous!
Luckily, I did not listen to that impulsive voice (which sounds a lot like my 16-year-old self, swimming about my small home town, a big writerly fish).
Instead, I joined a one-time, month-long online critique group on Inked Voices.
I offered feedback on other people’s work, then collected responses on mine.
You’ve probably anticipated this plot point.
The responses were not great.
I’d been expecting gushing praise for my brilliance.
Instead, I got a little bit, um, eviscerated.
One of the writers offered her advice followed with (paraphrased): “I know what I’m talking about. I’m a poet.”
This was around the time that Following Sea was launching. I felt my face burn in shame.
The veil had lifted: that gossamer, shimmering, rose-coloured filter through which I saw easy success.
But you know what?
She was right.
Her notes were dead on.
A lot of the others’ were as well.
That isn’t to say that it didn’t hurt a bit.
I mean, uh, I’m a poet too…
But, then, writing hurts.
It hurts a lot and often.
It is not for the weak of heart.
Luckily, that hurt is balanced by a deeper elation: catching that exactly proper turn of phrase and scurrying for a pen to write it down. Creating worlds. Making stories.
Tinkering, tinkering, tinkering, as I talked about in an interview on the radio show HOWL on CIUT 89.5 FM this week (which you can listen to here).
After that, I let the thing sit for a bit.
I wondered if I should give up (it is, after all, a genre I’ve never written in before). But then the character lumbered back to me…
I’ve revised my brains out this week. Rewriting, rewriting, rewriting.
Reading it so often to my husband that he knows bits of it by heart (which is better than Shark Baby which also took a turn through our house because J., after all, is an elementary school teacher).
He still thinks it’s good…
but now it is SO MUCH better.
I’ve decided to send it to an editor with loads of experience in this genre.
Humility is good for the soul, I’ve realized.
It’s good for the work too. It’s a bit like fertilizer: boosting the roots, helping them stretch for deeper ground.