This week I sent off my manuscript for a professional critique.
I am looking forward to getting the results of this critique, promised for a month from now. Oh, don’t get me wrong, there is an element of dread. But I lived through being chosen as the example of what not to do in a not-so-distant-past “Showing versus Telling” workshop (I still owe mountains of thanks to my defenders, who praised the writing itself), and I’ll live through this as well.
The actual sending off was easy. In the days leading up to the handoff, I got to a point where I couldn’t bring myself to work on it any more. I was done, and I knew it. Unable to work on larger story issues, I kept the guilt at bay by fixing formatting and scanning pages looking for red squiggles, Word’s way of questioning things we write.I was relieved to finally send it off, happy to turn my attention to the next book in the series.
But after I’d sent it, I developed this vague sense of regret. The feeling that I wanted a do-over, that I could have gotten further along to figuring my issues out myself. The whole idea of the critique was to take me to a place I could not reach on my own. To use a video game metaphor, I didn’t want to waste the “level up” token that life had dealt me.
I have set aside that regret. Right now, my manuscript is Schrodinger’s cat, both wonderful and in need of intensive work. And as I write these words, I realize, I ask for nothing more.