Holy Hectic, Batman

What a day this has been.  After all those comments I made last week about not putting off the critiques until the last minute, I haven’t been able to get around to doing them until today, even though I got the samples earlier than last week.  And I’ve only been able to do one.  The other one I haven’t even cracked open yet.

I admit I’ve really been putting off doing it because it’s just so tough.  I want to be helpful, but fair, but honest, but constructive, but nice.  This does not come to me naturally, y’all! (I can’t believe I just used that word.)

I noticed last week that a lot of people did their critiques and comments electronically, using the review options (track changes and comments) in Microsoft Word and then printing out the hard copies for the writers.  The first of the two samples and the only one I’ve touched so far, the writer asked us to do it that way.  I’m not sure if that slowed me down or if it would have taken me a long time anyway, but it took me three and a half hours to do my critique and comments on an 18 page sample.  And that’s after having read the story last night.

There were a lot of technical problems with the story and some confusing points that slowed me down and I had to figure out how to comment on those in a positive and constructive way that still said, “You need to change these things.”  It’s not easy!

In addition to that, I had actual work to do today and errands to run at lunch, and blogs piling up in my reader and my own mental blocks against doing this in the first place, all standing in the way, holding me back.

I just don’t want to do them.  Not because I’m being lazy.  I just don’t want to tell people I don’t even know what I think of their writing…  but I want them to do it for me.  And I want them to like what I’ve done and have only great things to say (which is probably too much to expect) and I want them to be supportive and encouraging.  I don’t really believe in karma or good juju, or whatever.  I just don’t.  And yet, I do believe you get what you deserve.  You get what you give. (That’s different, right?)  So I’m doing the critiques and trying to be genuinely helpful in spite of my own insecurity and my fear of coming across more harshly than I mean to and hoping that they won’t, or that I won’t take it that way.

And so here we are on Tuesday night.  I’ve done one critique and have another one to go and yet, twenty-three hours and forty-five minutes from now, I will already be in the work shop, either listening to what they thought of my sample, or telling them what I thought of theirs, and I haven’t even started on the last sample, yet.

No pressure here…

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Getting Real

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The Editing Stage

So, I finished the first draft of my novel on the day after Thanksgiving.  Many, MANY moons ago, I printed out a hard copy of what I had already done (less than half the finished work) and started editing those pages.  I got through ten chapters before I put that down and didn’t look at it again.  Eventually, I went back to writing with a renewed vigor and determination (and another round of NaNoWriMo to motivate me.)  Since I finished the first draft I decided to go back through those old edits and update the soft copy before I did anything else.  Interestingly, many of those edits had already been done in the soft copy, which tells me, not only that I did them during some other burst of editing, but also that I was on the right track since I thought the same thing more than once.

I finished that last week.

Today, I have before me a completed, fully printed, hard copy of the book; 416 pages, 208 sheets of paper.  And you know what?  For the first time, it looks real.  All double spaced and Times New Roman-y, just the way an agent/editor/publisher wants it.  It feels kinda strange…  Good!  But strange…

My next step is to go through the hard copy, with a red pen, and hopefully a clear, unbiased mind and edit it again.  I know there are sections that need work.  I know that there will be rewrites to be made, but I’m pretty excited about this process all the same.

I’m officially signed up to participate in a writers workshop, starting in February.  There will be real, published, accomplished authors in this group.  To say that I feel out of my depth and a bit self-conscious would be an understatement.  But the leader of the workshop, a published author herself, has already given me very positive feedback on the few pages I sent her last week and I can’t wait to hear more (even if some of it is constructive criticism and not accolades…  accolades would be nicer though…)  😉