So I’m compiling the comments my wife and my friends gave me on my first draft of Bloodsun Rising. Most of the comments are useful, and I’ll be clearing up a ton of small points.
But what do I do if I disagree with them? How much weight do I give to comments that go against what I wrote? In other words, when it’s not a clear-cut issue like grammar, how much do I trust the comments my friends gave me? And what if they contradict each other? Which do I choose?
Stephen King in his excellent book On Writing says that you should have one person as your reader, and apply a lot of weight to their comments. Don’t accept everything they say, but at least consider everything they say? But I’m a new writer, and I don’t know whose comments are the best.
I understand that this is part of the process of becoming a writer, and I welcome it. I just wish I knew all the answers already. Yeah, I’m like that. One of my personal goals is to become more patient with myself. I’m working on that one…
So I have to make some decisions based on what they’ve said, and what I feel is correct. Everyone liked the story, and had positive things to say about it, so I’m confident in that regard: It seems I might actually be able to write decent novels. But I risk falling into the trap of second-guessing myself, of thinking perhaps my choice – which felt right to me when I made it – was wrong just because someone else thought it was wrong.
I’m getting the feeling that writing a novel is like quilting in a way. Here in Pennsylvania you see many quilts; quilting is ingrained in the local culture. And that’s a good thing, because a beautiful quilt is a treasure. But why is writing a novel like quilting? Well, two reasons really.
1) They’re big, so if you make a mistake or two, it isn’t usually enough to ruin the entire project.
2) They’re big, so if you make enough small mistakes, it may be hard to see where you went wrong, but it’ll be painfully obvious to everyone that you did go wrong. A bad novel, like a bad quilt, is an ugly thing.
But I can’t sit here and second guess everything I do. To quote my brother-in-law Jon, make a decision and move on. So that’s what I’ll do. I’ll try to take the comments into consideration, but I won’t let them stop me. I’ll trust that my skill as a writer – and my destiny to be a writer – is enough.
And if I’m wrong, I’ll find out when the rejection letters start coming in.
Wish me luck!