Do you get that fluttery, queasy feeling in your gut when crit partners return your story? You know, excited but sick-to-your-stomach nervous? You can’t wait to see their reaction to the plot, to the characters, to the beginning, the middle and the end, to the twists and turns, etc. Do they love Mr. Hawtness as much as you do? Did they see that twist coming? Which lines made them laugh? Did they cry?
But for me, the most disconcerting question of all, especially while under deadline as I am now, is… How much more work do I need to do? Because, you know, in that first round, there’s a lot. We like to think there isn’t, that we’re geniuses and hit it beautifully right out of the gate. But deep down we know better, so we know there’s work coming. Just how much?
In the second round, we think we’re pretty close. We’ve addressed everything from the first round, smoothed out our transitions with the new material, and, while we were at it, tightened up the writing. We think our plot is sound and our character arc develops well. Feedback from this round will let us know that we filled all the plot holes and/or that we created new ones. So we either have a long way to go still or…we don’t.
In the third round, at least in my process, it’s mostly about polishing the writing, clearing up any final loose ends, etc. Feedback from this round should, hopefully, be all about strengthening the writing and putting on a few last minute touches. The light is at the end of the tunnel. Right?
Well, this is how I’d like it to all go. But with each round, I just can’t be sure. Changes after the first round might be so extensive that I’ve created all kinds of new problems that come back in the second round. Third round critters might find plot or character issues the first two rounds missed and now that they’ve been pointed out, I can’t just leave them like that!
Aack! More work to do than I expected.
There’s always more work to do than I expect. Just when I think it’s perfect, something else is brought to my attention. I get to the point where I can’t stand the story anymore and wish I’d never written it. Just the thought of looking at it again makes me want to vomit. So far in my experience, that’s been the last round. It’s just when I absolutely hate the story and never want anything to do with it again that it comes back clean. And then I realize how much better it is. And then I love it again.
Right now, I’m waiting on critters’ feedback for GENESIS. Every time I hear the email dinging sound, my stomach drops to my knees, just knowing it’s from a critter. Which is a little melodramatic, considering I get 100s of emails a day and 99% of them are not from critters. But I can’t help it.
And when they are from a critter, my heart pounds, ready to sink when I see how many problems there are still to fix. With a deadline looming directly overhead, problems mean lots of coffee and late nights in my near future. So far, though, this round hasn’t been too bad. Of course, they’ve just barely begun, so I’m not holding my breath. A lack of oxygen does nothing for that fluttery, queasy feeling but, perhaps, make it worse.
How do you feel when you get crit partner feedback? Do your emotions get all twisted in a bunch? Or are you just plain excited to hear back? Do you sit on top of the inbox, checking every 2 minutes or do you run and hide and pretend like the email isn’t there until you know you must open it?