Saturday, February 18, 2012
On Not Being Able to See the Trees, Let Alone the Forest.
I've been working through a Beta Reader's comments for the last month. And I am stuck.
In the past, I've often put aside readers' comments when they've suggested changes that felt too big. I'd think, "Perhaps what they are suggesting would work, but I'd rather do that sort of major reworking on the suggestion of an editor/agent. I'll get this as good as I can get it within my own vision, send it off, and if an agent is interested but wants a shift in direction, I'll more seriously contemplate major rewriting then." Sometimes I worry I'm just being lazy: "ACK, change too big, take too long, just put that one aside." But being more charitable, I also think I'm following the inner voice of the story when I accept or reject my peers' suggestions.
And why I'm feeling particularly lost at the moment is that my Beta Reader put her finger on that inner voice and pushed until it was screaming at me: "Lisa, there is a major problem here! I've been trying to tell you this, why haven't you been listening? The lovely and very, very smart Sofia agrees! Now will you believe already?" And what Sofia and Inner Voice are suggesting scares me, because I don't yet know how to fix the problem. The story is so written into my cells, that I don't know what it becomes if I completely rewrite the middle section. A crisis of imagination. A serious crisis of imagination.
I haven't found my way through, but I figure the only way to find my way through is by writing. Right now I'm trying a medium fix - keeping the middle section close to what it has been, but trimming it down, mainly by merging and deleting characters. But I keep getting stuck by not knowing if what I'm doing is for the good. And that is a new experience for me. Whenever I've taken on Scribblerati suggestions, I can sense as I'm writing that I'm taking the piece to a new level. It's a tangible feeling of rightness. And I haven't been feeling that over the past month and so I have no idea whether my changes have any value. (Thank the stars and the moon for my writing program, Scrivener, which allows for very easily creating new versions and reverting back to older ones. I keep myself going by telling myself I'm just playing - these changes don't have to be real ones, Lisa, we're just having a bit of fun here and experimenting.)
It's odd. Trying to trust the Inner Voice, and feeling at the very same time that I've completely lost my ability to self-evaluate my writing.
Perhaps it's time to follow in Shawn's footsteps and start from scratch...Oof.