There is a part to writing novels that never gets easier: the critique. On Sunday, I sat with a group of trusted friends and listened to their thoughts on the first draft of my latest novel, “Counting Coup.” For nearly two hours, they discussed the characters and plot, the things they liked, and a bunch of stuff they didn’t.
And then I received first draft edits from my publishing editor and he had a different list of all that he liked and didn’t.
This is where my brain is still very much stuck in 3rd grade. The internal conversation goes a bit like this:
37-year-old me: Of course they gave you feedback. YOU ASKED FOR FEEDBACK. WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?
9-year-old me: They don’t love me. No one loves me. I hate everything.
I know. I’m ridiculous.
It is at this junction that I stopped, for more than a year, with “Basket Baby.” I put the edits on a shelf for a year before I could summon the courage to sit down and admit the story needed work.
CC does need work. They saw what I couldn’t. They also told me all of this as kindly as they could. They voluntarily spent hours upon hours reading my work and providing thoughtful advice. And my gut response was, “NOPE.”
The ego is a funny, evil thing. It let’s us hide our own imperfections, calling them quirks. It strokes our need for importance, and massages our ugliest characteristics. And when it is wounded, it cries like a 9-year-old girl.
For the next few months, I’ll be working through these changes. I know the bones to this story are there, and that they are great. I want to get it right.