WIM: Letting others in

The journey from creative vision to words on the page, and then into the reader’s imagination, is bumpy and fraught with many potholes and blind spots.

Behind the wheel, focused on the final destination, we’re sometimes oblivious to how the larger landscape is unfolding. We speed up in places we should slow down, we veer into blind alleys or miss interesting viewpoints along the way.

But inviting other people along for the ride can be scary and vulnerable too.

Asking for feedback on your writing sometimes feels like asking someone what they like and don’t like about your child. This thing you have birthed kicking and screaming into the world, after many hours of pain and labour.

That’s why, to quote my fellow Writer in Motion KJ Harrowick, a good critique partner is worth their weight in tacos. You know that meme going around that tacos fall apart but we still love them?

Well, when you and your manuscript fall apart, it’s your CPs that are there to scoop up the bits and help you roll it into something delectable again.

(They also tell you when you’re mixing too many damn metaphors.)

My CPs for the Writer in Motion project, authors MB Dalto and Megan Van Dyke, are both prolific writers and seasoned pros at swapping work. Both of them helped me identify spots with clumsy wording, unclear references, questionable character actions, and more issues that helped me make this story stronger. I’m so grateful for their perspective, input and valuable time.

But they also questioned parts of the story that I really liked and felt critical to the integrity of my vision for the piece.

When that happens, it can be hard to know what to do. Was I just being stubborn, clinging to my favourite phrases and sections when I’d be better off to trash them and start again?

In my case, the answer was more feedback, and fellow writer in motion Paulette Wiles came to the rescue. Paulette reinforced some of MB and Megan’s feedback, but she also loved some of the darlings I’d been advised to kill. So, I left them, because I love them.

Even feedback you ultimately don’t accept is valuable. It causes you to examine your work with a critical eye and hopefully pinpoint the heart of your vision and what you’re trying to achieve.

But in the end, it’s you in the driver’s seat. It’s your baby and you get to decide the final destination (there will be tacos). In a healthy CP relationship, that’s respected and celebrated.

And the parts of the story I kept—ego indulgence or solid instincts?

We’ll find out when my editor Justine Manzano gets busy with her red pen next week.  

Tomorrow, I’ll post the latest version of LIFE AND DEATH. Stay tuned!

(Header photo Annie Theby via Unsplash)