Monday, April 4, 2016

Partners in Crit

Do I or do I not have critique partners?

The answer is usually no, but there are exceptions. I have a few trusted people I send my stories to. Some of them send back critiques, but I never expect them and rarely ask for them.

The reason is simple. I don;t really want anyone's opinion on a project until I'm done writing it. That has nothing to do with me thinking my work is flawless. I KNOW better, believe me.

It has to do with confidence. Tell me that something needs serious work halfway through and I'm likely to stop working on it. Just stop. Mostly because if someone tells me what they see as a fatal flaw that should be reexamined, I'm likely to listen. Once that doubt sets in, I start to worry about the rest of the book.

So no opinions matter until the first draft is done. Then I may or may not show it to anyone but an editor.

There have been exceptions. I paid a book reviewer who I knew understood what I was going for to work as an editor on a couple of my books. She was ruthless and I loved it. my novel BLOOD RED would never have worked out as well if she hadn't edited the beast for me at very high speed. I would finish a chapter, send it to her and start writing the next. She would have edits for me by the time the first chapter next chapter was done. I'd correct and send both back to her. BLOOD RED, by the way, was the novel I finished in three weeks.  I could not have done it without her and I mean that.  I'd probably still be using her, but this was an occasion where my speed worked against me. When I started having to wait on several chapters at a time to come back from her, it was no longer working out for me.

By the time she'd have wanted me to make changes, I was no longer in that moment of the book and I couldn't really afford to lose the forward momentum to go back and fix something until later.  I'm a pantser. I normally know what I'm going to write several chapters ahead. That means I seldom want anyone to help me with the plot, just with the details I might have missed.

So it's really a matter of not wanting to break the rhythm, of something I'm working on, not having the extra time with deadlines (I have four novels due this year. I'm intending to nail that deadline down for all of them.) and not wanting to have a criticism that would make me falter when I'm running hot.

I strike while the proverbial iron is glowing white and I make the rough shape. I have editors to help me course correct on the second draft. Some of hem are very, very harsh. Some of them make minimal changes or suggestions. I have copy editors to help with grammar goofs.

I often go walking with a friend of mine. 25 yeras of smoking and YEARS of not taking care of myself guarantee that he often has to wait on me. So does working a day job where I'm frankly on my feet for 8 hours at a time. At the end of a shift like that, it's mighty hard to get out there and speed walk for 4 miles. It just is what it is.

But when it comes to writing, very few collaborators have kept pace with me and that includes first readers.

When it comes to the career, I don;t have the time to wait. There are so many stories I want to tell, and time is a precious commodity.

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