I’m an enormously emotional person – I cry over something, good or bad, just about every day. There’s a non-zero chance that a lot of writers are like this, and I think it’s at the heart of a piece of advice Terry Wolverton gave during her revision lecture this morning. It wasn’t new – it’s the same advice I heard from Nanowrimo back in the day. The advice was that once the first draft is done, put the work aside until you’ve gained some perspective from it. Terry took that one step further: she said that once you’ve received criticism from your critique group, your mentor or your agent or editor, you should put that aside as well. Just let it sit.
I received my evaluation from my project period mentor. I felt the same sense of trepidation about looking at my evaluation as I did about looking at the feedback on my last packet. Which, by the way, I still haven’t seen. He told me in his email that he was less happy about my last revision than he had been about the one previous, and I was too crushed to look at his feedback. Anyway, despite my misgiving, I looked at the feedback.
He was meticulous about documenting all of my stumbling, but at the end of the review were the words I had been waiting for. My mentor believes that I can be “a fine novelist.”
Maybe I’m ready to open that last packet now.
“The advice was that once the first draft is done, put the work aside until you’ve gained some perspective from it.”
I honestly don’t know if I have the patience to do it. Once the first draft is done I tend to get so giddy that I kick everything into high gear.
I hear ya, but Terry had this great story to tell: When she was writing The Labrys Reunion (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Swhn47D2m5A), she said she wrote this great long book about a bunch of feminists getting together and talking about the good old days. That’s it. Just a bunch of women talking. She was lucky enough to get an agent interested in it, and when she flew to New York to meet with said agent, the woman shoved the manuscript across the desk at Terry and said “Put a murder in it.” Terry was aghast. The book was perfect! Well, she put it aside and then, EIGHT YEARS LATER, she realized that agent was right. If you read that book today, you’ll notice that it begins with a murder.