It’s time for my November check-in with the Insecure Writer’s Support Group, the lovely mutual aid society that connects those of us struggling with our words. This month’s awesome co-hosts are Stephen Tremp, Karen Walker, Denise Covey, and Tyrean Martinson. Thanks to the whole support group!
I’m a lot less insecure right now than I was 24 hours ago, because I did it – I read from my work to others for the very first time at the monthly meeting of R-SPEC. I promised last month that I would, and I did! From this experience I learned three important things.
- I read about 850 words from the opening of the novel I started last summer during Camp NaNoWriMo. Before I could read it, of course, I had to revise it, quite a lot as it turned out. I fine-tuned and whittled, read it aloud to make sure everything would flow smoothly, and got it into the best shape I could. I put in about 8 hours of editing on those 850 words. Say it’s an hour for every 100 words, that means the whole 65,000-word draft will take roughly 650 hours. That would be around 3 months of 8-hour days. And what that means to me is – it’s doable. Long and time-consuming, but doable. I won’t be able to put in nearly that much time now, while in the depths of the fall semester, but I should be able to get through the whole editing process by the time the school year ends next spring. Maybe sooner! That’s better than I thought it might be.
- It actually sounded pretty good. I didn’t embarrass myself, and any rate. I am encouraged by a renewed sense that the book has a future, that there are good, strong bones there underneath the awkward phrasing that I can recognize and smooth away. What really made me happy is that one of the people there had personal experience in the environment this early scene was set in and said I captured just the right feeling of what that environment was like, even though I don’t have any experience of my own. Now I’m worried that I’ll run into more serious problems later on, clunky places where I can’t figure out how to fix it or details I get wrong, but I’m determined to look on the positive side. I can fix what’s wrong and come out with something good.
- The whole experience was not nearly as scary as I thought it might be. The group was positive and helpful, asking good questions and reflecting thoughtfully on what this short scene accomplished as well as where it might be strengthened. Next time, I won’t hesitate to read again. I think this will help me in several ways: motivating me to keep moving forward in my editing (so I have something polished enough to share), developing more comfort with sharing my work, getting feedback on what works and what doesn’t.
So right now, for the moment, I’m tilting a little more toward secure than toward insecure. And that’s making me feel insecure, because I know something is bound to happen to tilt me back the other way! But I know that I’ll get my tilt back and keep driving forward no matter what. That’s what we writers do.