Carefully Stacked and Marked Electrons.

Electronic Data. It rules everything these days. It’s our money, our jobs, our entertainment, and our memories.

So much of our lives revolve around little 1’s and 0’s flitting about on the merry tasks we set them upon.

Well, today, I sent a meaningful and important stack of those 1’s and 0’s half-way around the world to someone I barely know. I finally finished my critique of a CP’s work-in-progress manuscript, and I can only hope I’ve done it justice.

Here’s the thing. I received it on April 7th. I’ve had it for two and a half months! I had to ask myself: Why did it take so bloody long? We’re nearing the half-way point of 2013 and I’ve consumed 14 other books this year (1 of those is another WIP from a CP), so what was different about this?

Was it a hard read? No, it was quite enjoyable, considerably more enjoyable than what I imagine mine was for them to read. The characters were compelling, the descriptions and setting were simply beautiful, and the spelling and grammar were fantastic (you have no idea how important that is!).

So what was it? In a word: Fear. That’s right, I’m a coward.

I hate making other people uncomfortable, and I know that my internal Editor is a complete asshole. I don’t ever want to be as hard on other writers as my Editor is on me.

Would they hate me for pointing out how I felt about that sentence? That turn of phrase? That plot point?

Was I putting too many comments? Beating a dead horse? Nit-picking (GUILTY!)?

Was I missing things that I really ought to point out? Things that would help more than what I was catching? Things that actually mattered more than my hang-ups?

And SO much more. I was never an angsty teen. Why was this all coming out now? And over something like this?

I’m a cocky, self assured, smart-ass, bastard. Ask anyone who knows me, they’ll jump right on that sucker.

Here’s why: This is someone’s soul. Yeah, yeah, touchy feely crap. I know! But it’s true. Little known fact: Writing isn’t easy.

It’s a lot of hours pouring everything you have onto a page (that usually consists of those carefully stacked and marked electrons, and not so much dead trees and ink). And what you have when you’re done that first round of effort is usually a great big steaming pile of electrons that need to be poked and prodded, and in many cases thrown away and replaced, before you have something you can even let anyone see.

know how much effort I put into getting CROW’S BLOOD where it is now, and it still has a good ways to go (I have some Character Voice issues with my main POV to sort out, namely, I left too much of it out). Every mark I put on my partner’s Word document made me cringe.

So I procrastinated. That’s something that’s easy, and I can procrastinate with the very best of them! And hey, no one’s feelings get hurt by procrastination! Hell, I spent more time with my wife and family avoiding someone else’s Word document than I think I spent with them in the entire 3 months while I was writing the first draft of my own.

Well enough of that. I needed to put on my space-marine helmet, and grab my magical sword, and get past the barrier I set for myself. I needed to find that fear and kick it’s ass.

Did I mention this is also the first time I’ve done a full mark-up? I needed to finish it and return it on principle. The first is always the most difficult.

I can only hope I got it right, or that I can vastly improve my skill at writing carefully worded apologies.

– Alex

P.S. I didn’t return a mark-up to Colten, my other CP, and dear friend, but we had a really good long talk where I outlined my thoughts and we discussed some of the finer points. I’m looking forward to what he’s doing with the story and can’t wait to see the next draft.

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Filed under Character, Critique, deadlines, Editor, Feedback, Grammar/Spelling, Learning, Revision

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