I love writing. It’s not just something I do; it’s something I live for. Writing is a way for me to escape my own world and live in one polar opposite to my own. Writing fiction is especially fun because I can create whatever kind of world I want and have my characters do whatever they want. But when I’m all done, that’s not it, there’s more to do. I come to what is, for me, the dreaded part: editing.
I’m terrible at editing my own work. I second guess myself, which then flusters me, so I walk away, come back and do it again--It’s a vicious cycle. At the end of an editing round, I pretty much hate my writing and want nothing to do with that piece of work. But after editing comes something I dislike even more: critiques.
A critique is when someone else reads your work and comments on it, making remarks throughout and it’s usually followed up by a summary page. They can be critical, harsh, helpful and encouraging. It’s all subjective, and 2 people can have 2 different opinions. That can be good and bad, depending on how you take it and whether or not you agree with them.
It’s not that I can’t handle critiques; I appreciate all feedback, positive and negative. What I dislike is people reading my work. It’s nerve-wracking; the person reading it is essentially reading what I think, what I may feel, and then judging it, sort of. I feel vulnerable and self conscious, which doesn’t help when I’m already a negative Nelly about my work. I also dislike having to decide on taking their advice or keeping my work as it, because again, it’s one person’s opinion. Some days, I wish someone would come in and tell me what to do and end up with a perfectly crafted story. But then it wouldn’t be mine, at least, not in whole.
The point of all of this is to say a writer’s job isn’t done when they type the ever-so-satisfying “The End”. To me, writing the story is the easiest part. It’s the editing, the critiquing, the polishing and the selling and the waiting that are the work.
What a lot of people don’t understand is that when you write a book, there is so much more “behind the scenes” that goes on. This is just a taste of it. Like an actor, singer or dancer, I have to prove my craft, I have to prove my talent to many different people. I have to prove I’m worth the risk and that my words will sell. I can’t just write a book and say “Hey, agent, sign me, I’m ready to sell millions.” An agent has to choose my work, based on a very small sample of what I’ve slaved over and submitted to them per their submission guidelines. Similar to what actors go through, a writer has to go through many “auditions” before landing an agent and/or a publishing deal. Some never do, and some know the right people to get out of the slush pile and straight on to an agent’s or editor’s desk. Or some, in rare cases, are just plum lucky and talented and land a deal right away. For the rest, we go through this painstaking process, chasing our dream of publishing our creative work.
So Unnatural has gone through (or is going through) another small facelift. I got a couple of critiques back and though mostly positive and encouraging (Thank you ladies, you know who you are), there was some fine-tuning needed. It’s funny, because that’s where critiques are super useful; you see the cracks or slipups only after they’re pointed out by new eyes. These critiques (one in particular) have shown me just how close I am to my finish line.
I’m willing to do whatever it takes to make this perfect, and have been working tirelessly to do so. This is the last mile, I hope. My query letter is just itching to be sent; I’m ready to sell my work to an agent who believes in it, in me. I hope to meet one who does really soon.