After the big push to get The Swan Harp done I’ve been taking a week – more or less – away from writing. I’ve heard people say that a writer should take at least six weeks away from the manuscript before doing revisions. I’ve heard “at least two weeks”. I’ve heard so many varying lengths of the time you’re supposed to take away from a story before you do a rewrite that I’ve thrown my hands in the air and said, “You know what? This is the time I’ve got. It will have to do.” At the moment that’s how I’m conducting my writing life anyway, so it fits right in.
I’m feeling a certain amount of anxiety because I have, at current count, nine readers going through this draft. I want feedback, and I also feel a considerable amount of trepidation about it. To put it bluntly, I’m scared that this book may not be as good as I think it is – that’s certainly happened before – or any good at all.
The difference between post-publication reviews and pre-publication reviews (or critiques) is that you can, if you want, duck the former, but you may not duck the latter. At least, you can’t if your avowed intention is to improve your work. You can refuse to take the advice, but you have to hear the response. On Monday, when I get together in person with my Thessalon writer friends, I will have my critique-taking face on. Right now I’m anxious, maybe even more than anxious.
I’ve worked very hard on this novel. I’d like it to be published but, more than that, I’d like it to be worth publishing. I don’t know how I’ll react if the judgment is that it isn’t worth it. Actually, yes, I do. I’ll cry. I’ll wonder why I’m in this business if I’m so fragile. Then I’ll get back to the work, because the thing about being an artist is that you have to do art. Not doing it is more painful than doing it and getting scary feedback.
As for the disappointment part, I picked up the mail this afternoon and found that I hadn’t succeeded at getting a grant I applied for. This isn’t a new occurrence – I’ve failed at more grants than not, and that’s true of anyone, I think. In my current anxious state, however, I was perhaps more disappointed than it warranted.
I had a cup of tea. I listened to some music. David assured me I’d written a good book (he’s heard perhaps two pages of it, but he has great faith in my abilities). And I’m back at it again. I’ll never not be back at it again. You can count on that.