|Surviving critique and revision in writing is|
as tough as backpacking the
Appalachian Trail. But it can be done!
I don’t know about you, but I’m beginning to hate question words. You know the type. Why did you do that? How did this make you feel? When did this happen? What exactly do you mean by that? What finally made you decide? Where’s the trigger? Why now?
Why, why, why? How, how, how? I feel like I’m in therapy. She’s worse than my children with all her questions. It seemed like everything I wrote wasn’t specific enough for this editor.
All these details are supposed to be in the synopsis?
There are mountains of messages in my margins.
She picked on my phrasing:
This is too formal.
What happened to your humorous voice?
She unpacked my factual sentences:
Clip some facts here.
Sprinkle some other facts throughout the synopsis.
She tried to get me to move from the general to the specific:
Why is this important?
What’s the bigger picture here?
Comment on your experiences.
She poo-pooed my maxim:
What is this statement tied to? It feels random -
I’d said, “Opportunity changes lives.” [I thought it was one of my themes.]
This seems like a stretched reference:
No person is an island. [Okay…it is…but doesn’t it sound cool?]
Transition lines were missing. So were some explanations. I’m supposed to step back and reflect—even in the synopsis. Then some of my reflections are too abstract, and others need to be more specific to me.
Pick! Poke! Shred!
…Boy, is she good.
She helped me put my voice back into the synopsis. I had changed some of the language, and even I thought it sounded too stilted. I thought I needed to sound educated. Obviously there’s a huge difference between educated and my particular voice.
I reminded myself that I asked for this carnage. Unfortunately, it still stings. But it’s the only way for the manuscript to get better. For a writer to learn of her weaknesses. To see what she can no longer see for herself in the manuscript story. Don’t you think so?
As I sit here licking my synopsis wounds, crying into my teacup, I berate myself to get over it and send the entire manuscript in for a formal undressing if only to see what’s worth saving, what should be expanded upon. This is my college journey, a ten-year ordeal. Let’s not make the writing of it also a ten-year ordeal, Victoria.
Thanks for listening. Your insight is invaluable to me. Feel free to share any experiences you have or to offer any tips. Thank you!