As part of the Pitch Wars experience, some mentors were able to give feedback on submitted manuscripts. I was fortunate to have received not one, but two edit letters. Both were long and detailed and very much appreciated.
I’ll be honest here. I’m no rhino-skinned teflon-coated snowflake. I am sensitive to criticism. Especially when I feel it is unwarranted. If someone speaks to me in a forceful, borderline unkind voice, my hands will shake and tears will threaten. It’s annoying, but I’m guessing a deeply ingrained trait because my daughter reacts the same way.
But critiques on my writing trigger a different response. Don’t get me wrong, I love compliments and praise as much as the next person. But in order to make my writing better, I want to be told where things don’t work for the reader. I need to be told since I can’t see my own writing through a reader’s eyes.
The best way to describe how I feel is to think of my manuscript as a dress. A dress I created from a made-up pattern. In my head, the dress has beautiful lines, nice drape, a good cut. I get out my fabric, scissors, needles, and get to work. I measure, cut, sew, fit, tweak and do my best to reflect the awesome dress in my dreams onto the fabric in my hands. The only thing is, I lack a mirror to see how it looks when worn. If I am unflinchingly honest with myself, I will have an idea of how it might look, but it’s only ball park. I can tell where it doesn’t quite fit, I can look down and see or feel where it bunches. I can do a fair bit of the fixing and picking and restitching etc from my own observations to make that thing as good as I can get it.
But if I want to make that dress amazing? I need to see the dress on me.
I need a mirror.
Critical feedback is that mirror. It offers me the chance to see my work with someone else’s eyes.
That is a gift.
With a mirror, I can decide where to adjust, recut, trim, tuck, re-stitch, reposition. I can make informed decisions. With enough effort, hopefully I’ll end up with something that looks as cool as I imagined. Maybe better.
So, to all my lovely mirrors who have spent time and effort and brain power to provide me a different perspective on my work. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU.
Starting Wednesday I’ll loosely follow Janice Hardy’s Revise Your Novel workshop with fellow Pitch Wars contestants. I aim to finish a final edit on my manuscript by mid October. If you’re #amwriting on #pw16revclub, find us on Twitter with #ReYoNo31.