Too close to my own work

This week, I was really hesitant about whether or what to read out at Writer’s Group. I felt I should read something because I’d already skipped one week, but since I worked on the plot last week a lot has changed. A large chunk of chapter one and the whole of chapter two will have to be re-written, only NOT right now.

I had already read the prologue and I was still working on chapter three, so I settled on the opening of chapter one, a pretty slow-paced tidbit about our main character’s living arrangements. I almost didn’t write it in the first place because I can’t help but feel I will have to cut it in the future. I’m self-conscious about the writing style, of course, but I also worry that the scene is too quiet for the opening of the book.

I wanted supportive advice about this, so I took the plunge and got better feedback than I’d expected. We got rid of some less-than-Victorian words, swapping ‘cagey’ for ‘disreputable’ – definitely a plus! And someone said my description were atmospheric, which was just really, really nice! I often worry than I come across as a bit flowery and long-winded (because I love making flowery, long-winded English!), so it was great to have my description vindicated.

I guess this proves that I’m really not that good at appraising my own work. I don’t know if it’s because I’m too close to it or because I still put ridiculous expectations on my poor first draft, in any case I thought I would get more criticism regarding where the story is going. Then again, not everyone has been working on this for a whole year.

I’m now working on chapter three, where the gore and creepiness really start. I’m thoroughly enjoying writing it and I think I’m decent at the gore and creepiness, so I can’t wait to finish it up and read some of it in a couple of weeks’ time.


Writing Group

I’ve recently started going to a fortnightly Critique Group which meets a short walk from my office and a short bus ride from my house. It’s a very friendly group of regulars, now including two of my close friends, who give honest and supportive critique and advice.

Having attended a couple times before I brought anything to read, I knew there would be no gratuitous tearing into my work. Still I was shaking when I brought my first piece of flash fiction to read. Some of the people is that group are very talented, and I didn’t want to make a fool of myself.

I got very positive feedback on the flash fiction, so I brought in the first bit of the prologue for my work in progress. This got mostly positive feedback too, as well as some useful nitpicking. I was happy that there was nitpicking because the group operates on the basis that they only nitpick if they don’t think there is anything majorly wrong with the story.

The feedback I received gave me drive and confidence, so much so that the week-end that followed I did some of the most pleasant, least anxiety-ridden writing I’d done in a while. I carried on with the unfinished prologue I’d shared at the writing group, and got it done while I was on holiday with my family in France. I also had no internet and gorgeous weather, of course, but I know the positive feedback was a great part of how successful that week-end was.

Now, I’m trying to channel the drive and energy I had during that week-end into pushing forward with the novel so I have something decent to read next time.