I was wrong.
See, ONE is about ready to fly to my crit partners' inboxes for critique. (A couple weeks now. Juuust a couple weeks.)
And I am completely freaking out.
See, I've known these ladies for months and months now. I consider them dear friends. I trust their advice, both about writing and life in general (and fashion, duh) implicitly. So why am I so stressed about asking them to leave their comments on a manuscript that I KNOW needs critique? That I'm absolutely DYING for feedback on?
It really makes no sense at all. I know that this manuscript is better than the first draft of THE TRAVELERS I sent to Gina this June (poor, poor Gina.) They've all read excerpts (and Excerpts) and been all, "Wheee, I can't wait to read this, hurry up and edit!"
Well - it's precisely BECAUSE I know/love them so well that I'm worried, I think. Deep down, here is what I'm afraid the reaction will be. The crit reaction is first, but the reaction I'm really scared of is in parentheses.
- This story is stupid/boring/makes no sense (you are stupid/boring/make no sense)
- This story is essentially the same as the last one you wrote. (Don't you have a single new idea ever?)
- You can cut this whole chapter. (Why have you wasted my time making me read this whole chapter?)
- Your dialogue punctuation is consistently incorrect. (I thought you told me you graduated from High School...?)
- Etc., etc., etc.
But. The rational part of my brain reminds me that the manuscript needs critique/revision. The only way I'm going to get it is from critique partners. And here's where the wonderfulness of sending a second project to the same group comes in. I already know that my CPs are the best - I mean THE BEST I can hope for. Here's why:
- I trust them implicitly. When they tell me to change something, I change it, or at least take them seriously enough to figure out what was bugging them and how I can fix it, even if it's not the exact change they suggested. And that's BECAUSE
- They care about me and my book. When they make suggestions, exclamations, or giant red slashy lines, on my manuscript, it's all in the name of making my book better and helping me succeed - not cutting me down, or making themselves feel superior, or nitpicking just to nitpick.
- I can predict the things that will bug them, and remind myself in advance that they are not personal judgements against me. For example:
I know that Gina will have some issue with one of the following:
- the denseness of my MC
- the douchebaggery of her boyfriend
- some of the relationship cheesiness between them.
- lack of description and consistency, which I call "sloppy writing" (but Gina never would, doll that she is)
Maggie's never critiqued a project of mine beyond an alpha read, so I can't predict that much about her, but she's looked at the first page of TT a ton, and I already know she'll tear my grammar limb from limb. Probably paragraph structures too. And then help me put everything back together again.
Jean is ruthless with her dedication to flawless craft. Show don't tell. End every scene on a question mark. It's chapter five and you are just now introducing a main character? Are you effing kidding me? And why is that character so flat? SHE KNOWS I AM A BETTER WRITER, QUIT WHINING AND SUCK IT UP.
And Chessie is going to MURDER me on what I'm audacious enough to call "science" in this (light!) science fiction manuscript. She'll also indicate at least a dozen times a chapter how much my rampant use of the passive voice makes her want to vomit/stab her own eyes out. You know, lovingly.
(I already know that Heidi, who's going to crit for me for the first time, is a master of paring down a story to its essential elements and an all-round genius.)
Now! Having these things in mind doesn't mean I won't take them seriously. On the contrary! I've assembled my own awesome Charlie's Angels of a crit group. I know that each member has an eagle eye for different things. I can count on them to help me polish ONE to a high sheen.
Is it still TERRIFYING to think of sending them this draft? Absolutely. And I'll be in my office focusing on deep breathing for about half an hour after I do it. Because, at the end of the day, I also know that
but at least I won't get (too terribly) offended when they tell me that.
Do you get nervous to send new stuff to your established crit group? Is it worth it, like it is for me? Tell me in the comments!