Coming Full Freakin’ Circle

Just a few days ago, I got a nice sucker punch to the gut that was oh so very necessary. It came in the form of feedback over my earliest completed story–Darryn’s trilogy; particularly the second book in the trilogy, that no one else has read. You know, the same trilogy that I’m pretty sure a few blog posts ago (or many blogs ago, as I have been absent for quite some time recently and I apologize profusely for that), I was bragging that, after completing another round of edits, I thought were close to being ready for publication.

dreamworks how to train your dragon toothless hiccup berk

Ha.
A ha.
Ha ha ha.

Let me preface this to say that while receiving this feedback felt like a punch in the gut, it was a necessary punch in the gut. And it was delivered thoughtfully, respectfully, professionally and coming from someone who I admire a very, very, very high amount. She could have said she hated my work (which she didn’t) and I would still think so highly of her and value her opinion. But hearing that your work isn’t ready yet when you thought you were close and have been working for years is never an easy pill to swallow.

But even more so, this time around, it was an eye-opener.

Some of the major points of advice I was given include (amongst other things, but no one needs to see my six total pages of notes, suggestions and ideas):

  • Characters and their desires/motivations/goals aren’t clear
  • Chapter endings don’t end in the most natural spot
  • Doesn’t feel focused
  • Really consider which POVs are necessary
  • A lot scenes are there simply to include worldbuilding elements that aren’t actually necessary in that moment
  • Would that character realistically do that? Why didn’t they do THIS?
vikings dreamworks how to train your dragon toothless

Obviously she was super nice about telling me all of this and it didn’t feel like this moment at all, but any moment when I can use this GIF is a moment I can’t pass up.

Granted, I have some ah, some work to do.

And that’s work I’m putting off for a while. I got new stories I want to write and the amount of revision this one is going to undergo is a bit more than I can swallow at the moment (but I promise you, I’m not giving up on this story; no way in hell). But about halfway through our phone conversation, I had that moment; that eye-opener; that a-ha; that moment where everything suddenly came:

Image result for olan rogers full freaking circle

Thanks, Olan!

Almost every thing that was pointed out in my work that could be improved? Those are the elements that I am most nitpicky about when editing others works, whether it is the one client I’m working with or simply beta reading for some friends. How worldbuilding is incorporated, realistic dialogue, characters making rationale choices that match with their personalities and chapter endings are elements I almost always comment on and ask writers to amp up in their stories. But did I ever think to look at my own writing and see why those elements stuck out to me so glaringly?

I think you know the answer to that question.

So, massive facepalm moment later, my lesson has been learned, my thoughts on my own writing humbled and my determination has hardened. Despite every punch, every moment when I think I’m ready but I’m not (and when I think I’m not ready yet I am), despite every flair of fear or doubt, I’m learning. I’m growing. My writing is improving. And though I’m not sure when I’ll return to edit my most precious of stories, I will be editing them and you will be reading them one day. And we’ll all look back at this moment, this lesson, and laugh. And we’ll be thankful for readers willing to deal out the hard truths and writers who refuse to give up.

Cheers.

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About Nicole Evans

Nicole Evans is a writer of fantasy and science fiction. She is currently unpublished and is working fervently to get the “un” removed from that statement. She has five completed manuscripts: a trilogy about destined heroes that fail anyway, a science fiction standalone that pits the natural desire to love against the natural instinct to kill during the extinction of the human race and a new series about a writer who can't get published and gets the chance to live a life that all writers dream. She also has two scripts done. Currently, she is about to start writing the second of a nine book series while planning two more. (If you can tell, she really likes this whole writing thing.) Considering she has run out of space for putting rejections letters up on her wall, Nicole now uses her spare time doing the typical things that nerds do: blogging, dying repeatedly during video games (which she believes is retribution for the characters’ she’s killed), wishing she was the character she is currently reading about and trying to fight off the real world by living in her own head, with varying degrees of success. Nicole has a degree in Creative Writing and a minor in Film and Media Studies, and works part-time as a supervisor in a library at the University of Kansas. View all posts by Nicole Evans

8 responses to “Coming Full Freakin’ Circle

  • yssirhchrissy

    “Be thankful for readers willing to deal out the hard truths and writers who refuse to give up.” Perfect. I need this on a poster of a kitten hanging onto a tree limb, stat!

  • philcharlesr

    Roald Dahl had a completed polished version of Charlie And The Chocolate Factory. He gave it to his nephew, who hated it. Look what happened when he’d finished further drafts. You’re in good company, keep up the excellent work :). Also, I owe you a beta read so let me know if you need another pair of eyes on any of your writing.

  • Leoma Retan

    Congratulations on taking the emotional risk of getting a deep review. That’s hard.

    I must say that those points of advice look really familiar. 🙂 You’re right, though. I think we’re all somewhat blind to the issues in our own work. Exposing it to the painful glare of an outside eye is, at some point, the only way to bring a story to what it is meant to be. For the record, my current WIP is on major revision 12 and I’ve though it was “almost ready” at least half a dozen times, only to be told, “Nope, not yet.” The stories far better for the changes.

  • hsdeurloo

    Oh man I feel ya on this. I’ve been on the ‘last’ draft ten times now and the first draft was crap but it took so much to see it and plenty of re-dos. We will get there. Here’s to another round of edits, cheers.

    • Nicole Evans

      I know, I really need to remember that very first draft and how ridiculously proud of it I was (which I should have been) and how I had rare moments when I thought it was the most amazing thing ever written (HA). Though this story still has so much more work to go through, it has come *so far*. We got this!

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