Friday, August 23, 2013
LOVE, HATE, TRUST… OH, MY!!!
by Peg Brantley, who is currently about 60 pages away from finishing her first round of professional edits and whose head hurts. If there are errors in this post, she apologizes but is stepping away from her computer, shrugging her shoulders and looking for wine.
When I begin writing a new book, I'm on a honeymoon high. I've fallen in love with the characters, tingled with the plot concept, and sensed the possibilities to make it bigger tickle my brain. It's beyond sexy. It's sustainable.
I'm in love.
Then I actually begin to write the thing. And oops, the reality of the relationship sets in. I need to work out some knotty plot issues. Work to make all of the pieces and players organic. Struggle to find the right flow. Keep things moving. Keep a good pace. Entertain. Work. The tingle/tickle stuff from before turns into a smelly heap of you-know-what.
Now I crash headfirst into hate. The image I'd fallen in lusty-love with is cracked and flawed and well, it's fake. It might be beyond my skills to make awesome.
What was I thinking?
This is when I pull up my big girl panties, rely on my research, believe that I've found just the right details to hang the lie—oops—story on, and plow through to a climactic end. Phew! Done!
I'm back in love for the moment, even though the bloom is off the rose. I'm what you might call suspicious.
A couple of revisions later and the story is off to beta readers. They seem to love it. They run the gamut from one who hardly changes a thing to the blessing of one who really pours her heart into the project, making both the story stronger and pointing out weird habits I'd fallen into as a writer. (Thank you, thank you, Polly Iyer. I'm in your debt.)
During the honeymoon phase, it was flawless. Once I got intimate with it, I figured out it's secret weaknesses. The places that could cave. The places I exercised my God-given right to deny. And I'm really clever at dancing around denial.
Not that I would actually know, but I think denial is kind of like an extra-marital affair when it comes to your book. It's pure BS and doesn't help anything.
This is where the marriage counselor/relationship expert comes in.
With every story, I realize that by myself I cannot make it any better. I send it to my editor. That person I love to hate and hate to love and ultimately trust. The person who will help me rebuild my relationship with my story. The person who will corner my weaknesses and not let me get away with them. The mutual goal here is to sift through it all and come out with something my readers will both love and trust, leaving hate in the dust.
When you trust, you keep the faith that somehow you'll not only touch that honeymoon high again, but move beyond it to something that is real, well done, and deserving of your readers.
I'm almost there.