According to this excellent post by Andrea Gillies on getting through first draft, the first golden rule is not to show it to anyone until it’s finished. Well I do break this rule on a regular basis by submitting chunks to Bristol Women Writers for comment and feedback, but I suppose that is a generally supportive enviroment and one where it’s understood that first drafts can be either bloated or frail and that crucially, nothing is final. There have been times when a comment has knocked me off course, but feedback has always been productive in the end. What has occasionally knocked me back more with more force has been negative feedback from an ‘expert’ a professional writing coach or tutor whose input I have usually paid for directly or indirectly on a course at a conference or writing workshop. Again the end result has been a better piece of work, but at the cost of up to six months licking of wounds in which no real writing took place.
So, it’s with some trepidation that I’m off to a (free!) ‘writing surgery’ this week which is part of the Bath Literature Festival. Am I asking for trouble? Having recently hit 50,000 words of my WIP and still feeling some determination to battle on through what feels like a sagging middle, how much ‘constructive criticism’ do I really want right now?
I suppose I’m hoping that this particular surgery will offer more in the way of strategic help than immediate rewrites, ideally maybe some ideas that can bubble under until I’m ready to review the whole thing, and also market advice. It has already been helpful in one respect. Having just got out the piece I submitted a few months ago, part of which I labelled ‘working synopsis,’ I’m struck by how I’ve already gone in different directions from those I planned. What are the implications for what’s still to come? Are there plot lines I need to revive?
Fingers crossed this ‘mid-term review’ will keep me going and not stop me in my tracks.