Reshaping my Brain

Yay, you guys liked my first excerpt. 🙂 Poetic is totally what I was going for (throughout the whole novel, but especially in that scene), so I’m glad you thought I achieved it.  Thanks to everyone who commented.

So interesting that today’s post fits so well with that excerpt.  It practically fell in my lap.

I have a secret to share with you.  I was not a very good receiver of crits for my last novel. O_O  I got so many great comments on excerpts while I was writing it and spent so much effort editing it that somehow I got into my head that, yes, I wanted crits, but really, it was ready to query.  So when some of my betas came back at me with, “This is great, except for this big thing,” (mostly world-building,) I thought to myself, “But these other betas over here didn’t think that was a problem.  And these over here didn’t have a problem with this other thing.  This one specifically said she loved this.”  Okay, there was a lot of disagreement between betas (one beta praised me for lines that another hated, for example; one or two even said they loved my world-building), and usually that means that it’s probably okay.  But I think maybe I shorted myself a bit on this novel.  I did a very superficial job of revising it… half of which was lost because I paused to do NaNoWriMo and, when I went back, I used the wrong version to continue revising, and I didn’t realize until after I sent out my first full.  Facepalm, right?

But I queried in a hurry because a) I had an awesome query and I couldn’t wait, b) I wanted to query before November ended because it was 50K, and I didn’t want to query a 50K novel in December when the more… ignorant NaNoers might be sending out their unedited written-in-30-days novels, and most importantly, c) I had a swollen head.

Luckily it wasn’t the kind of head swelling that Troy has in Fireflies.

By December, I had had time to think about it and realize that, yeah, I really needed to edit this novel more.  In retrospect, I should have saved the edits for December, but I was feeling rushed.  So I’ve been working on world-building and other things before sending out more queries.

So when Fireflies came along, I made a decision.  I was only going to revise it once before sending it to betas, instead of my usual three passes.  This was partially because, to be honest, I had no clue what I was doing with Fireflies.  I’ve never written MG and never written anything resembling literary, and here I was trying to do both.  I needed someone to tell me early on if it was MG, so that I would know if I needed to add something to get it longer (since it’s too short for YA, but perfect for MG).  The other reason I was only going to do one pass was that so much of the novel was about how the language went together, and my second pass is often used for tightening and losing adverbs and adjectives, but I wanted to see if that was even necessary before I went messing with the language.

So I had one beta pre-editing (she was very understanding about the pre-editing part) and two post-editing (so far).  And I was ready to accept anything.  That I needed to tighten, that it had big structural problems, that they hated the characters, that I didn’t explain how to draw with charcoal right, etc., anything, but, please, God, let it be MG.

(It was MG 😀 )

When I got my notes from my second beta, though, I found myself kind of jerking away from one of the big notes she made.  “No, no, she doesn’t get it, oh, no, what do I do, end of the world.”  You know how it is.  All that open-mindedness flew out the window like a firefly to freedom. 😉  But as I was working today—we’re reorganizing everything at work, which gives me lots of time to think, and also fits the theme—I took a page from Fiona.  I actively reshaped my mind to think positively about the comment that threw me for a loop.  The overall crit seemed scary, but the parts where she pointed out some specific instances weren’t all that bad.  She had some great suggestions in there and had pointed to other spots that gave me something to consider while doing some of the more monotonous jobs at work today.  I just needed to reshape my brain to accept the criticism part of the constructive criticism, while using the constructive part to my advantage.

And now I’m all excited to work out this problem.

Lots of love,

Sage

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3 thoughts on “Reshaping my Brain

  1. This is such a nice post. It can be really hard at first to take beta crits, especially if they’re about big things (personally, I find it easier to fix line by line issues than personality issues or something), because you put so much work into your draft, and you want it to be happy and just have small changes that it needs.
    But in the end, those beta crits are an amazing blessing, and so worth it, even if they mean hard work.

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