Worked on revising first chaper today. I plan on submitting the first three pages of chapter one at the upcoming PNWA conference. Figured I should stop working on current chapter (12) and work on line by line revision of work already completed. I submitted my first chapter to an online critique group – http://sff.onlinewritingworkshop.com/ and received two reviews. Both were helpful. One suggested I cut back on the verbiage in places, which mirrored feedback from someone at the local writers’ support group. Hard to delete some of those lines…you start to feel like they are a part of you. But they’re not, your character is – and if he needs to say less to get the point across, then he says less. Very happy with the revision. Have to see what others say of the “new, tighter lines”. Happy writing, everyone!
I was browsing the website for our local library (a favorite pastime), when I came upon an announcement for a Writer’s Group meeting. As I am going to attend an upcoming conference in Seattle – with the hopes of putting the first pages of my manuscript ‘out there’, I figured showing it to local writers first was a good idea.
My husband drove me to the meeting – long story, but I do not like to drive on major highways, and the meeting was a good 25 minutes away. The route was rather picturesque. Along the way I thought – not for the first nor tenth time – how the Pacific Northwest provided such an inspiring backdrop. We recently moved from Michigan. While a great place, not always so alive with color and scenery.
I arrived a few minutes early (if you’re not ten minutes early, you’re late) and found myself one of four adults in the group. Along with three youth (maybe ages 10 – 14). I have to admit – I was startled. Not that they wanted to write – kudos to all three – but that I might have to share something of my not-for-the-young work in progress. I write about vampires – and spirits, and things that go bump in the night. Which is fine for young adults, but I also write about s-e-x. Nothing too graphic, but still – I wouldn’t want my Mom reading over my shoulder as I worked on some of the more ‘colorful’ scenes. So – sharing it with such a young audience was too daunting to consider.
Shamefully, I left. I felt like a deer caught in headlights – not sure of what to do. I was already feeling vulnerable (sharing my work with someone other than my family for the first time), so that pushed me a bit too far at that moment.
As we were driving away, the realization of what I had done hit me. Then the guilt (I was raised Catholic, plus I’m a Mom. Double whammy). What message had I sent to the young aspiring writers? Not a good one. I had been selfish, blatantly so. My husband sensed my guilt. He’s good about that sort of thing – and even better about helping me with anything and everything. He turned around. We got stuck in a traffic jam due to a truck driver who got carried away and ended up going in the wrong direction (thank goodness, there were no injuries from what we could tell). An hour later, I arrived for the last part of the meeting. Everyone was very nice, funny – and inspiring. Being part of a small group of people who have a common goal – to express (something – fear, love, sadness, hopes, ideas…) is quite an experience. You feel less alone. And writing in a lonely exercise. Well, all your characters keep you company – but it is still lonely.
Happy I ventured back, I am still ashamed I did not stay in the first place. Yes, I did get much needed feedback on the first few pages of my manuscript. More than that, I learned something about myself – and that while writing might be a lonely experience, one does not have to be alone.