I have to admit something. I get very jealous sometimes. I am a member of some wonderful groups for Debut YA writers and we talk a lot about the biggest and the littlest details of publishing a first novel. But it's little phrases like "my Crit partners said..." or "my genius husband suggested..." or "my darling partner thought I could..." that make me look sheepishly around me for someone to comment on my manuscript. It seems I'm the rare writer without crit partners (romantic or otherwise!) to guide me through revisions and sometimes, no matter how independent a writer you might be, reading aloud to an empty room does not bring new ideas about.
So this morning, H-- who has piles of essays to grade, an amazing daughter in need of mommy time and is preparing to move (read, clearly has nothing else to do) commanded that I meet her on west 12th street for brunch and revision brainstorming.
She is a genius. We went through countless details from my manuscript that H turned upside down for me, twisted, and re-imagined. I feel clear. I feel like I am looking at a new book. She quoted lines back to me and then explained what they might mean to another reader. Oh, I thought, I never saw it that way. And I scribbled notes down furiously.
Most importantly she said, listen. You have to stop being mad at Keeley.
My god, I said. It's true. I AM mad at Keeley. I didn't know you could be mad at one of your very own characters. But I am. And that means I really kicked her out of the end of the book. And she deserves to be there.
So I say, don't clean your bathroom or stare at your computer screen or try to write inside a bubble. Ask someone to tell you the truth about a few of your words. You might find out you're really really mad at your characters and you need to work this out.
And just because.
Did we really look like this once?