I had a gut feeling. Something was wrong. You know how you can just feel that something isn’t right? But you ignore it. You’re not necessarily hoping that you’re wrong or anything like that because you already know. Something isn’t right.
Yep. I knew. But to acknowledge it would mean that all the time I’d put into it was wasted, right?
I thought of all the late nights. The hours of hard work. Time sacrificed. The sweat. The tears.
But that feeling just wouldn’t go away. So, I printed off several copies of my short story, Kayla’s Song. I recruited readers. I emailed copies of the story to some other people to read. And I waited. Of course, I started working on something else while I waited on the “honest feedback to come in.” I’d stressed that too. Don’t come back and tell me this is good because I know something is wrong with it. And I want to fix it.
Kayla’s Song. What song?
I felt absolutely nothing for Kayla. Her story didn’t move me like with Glory and the boys (a reference to Tattered Butterfly Wings).
The newspaper stuff is confusing to me. Good story but focus more on Kayla and I think the story will flow better. I’m tempted to say the story is more about Alwan than Kayla.
The story is confusing. Nothing happens until midway through. Was this supposed to be about Kayla or her parents? Some of the metaphors were a bit too much for me. Almost the entire story was memories and flashbacks. I kept waiting for something to happen.
Ouch!!! I have to be honest. It was the last one that cut me and drew blood. I bled for days behind that one. I also pouted. I yelled. I defended. I justified. Dammit this is a good story!
“I never said it wasn’t. It just needs some work.”
Something just happens when someone tells you something about yourself (or your work) that you already know.
So for days I moped. I didn’t write. I convinced myself I was nothing more than a hack. No wonder I have such a hard time achieving the level of success I want to see as a writer. I’m no good at all. I suck. I write crap, crap, crap, crap.
But on day four, I picked up the story again. Specifically, the copy of the story that had nearly killed me, the one my daughter Jasmine had workshopped for me. (I’d told her to do like she used to do in her fiction writing workshop classes. And she did.) I read the comments again. I read the story again. And as I was reading, a freaking light bulb went off. This story doesn’t start until page seven. And my mind went into overdrive coming up with ways to fix the story. I had ideas, I saw words that needed to go, dialogue that needed to be brushed up. The important thing was that I knew I needed to start on page seven.
That’s what Jasmine had been trying to tell you. You asked for constructive criticism to help make the story better then you shot the messenger when she told what you needed to do to make things better. (I didn’t literally shoot her, of course.) So I went back to Jasmine (on my hands and knees of course because how else do you go back to someone who’s tried to help you and you treated them like crap) and I told her how much I appreciated her feedback. I told her how her feedback had helped me write a better story. I told her that I was in the midst of re-writing the story and already I felt that it was a better story.
And I left all those words that I’d thought were so great, I left them lying on the cutting room floor. I’d wanted to hold onto those words because I’d felt so sure that they were great. I had crafted a winner. I knew that the first draft of a story was shit, but draft number 10? Who knew? I knew. I’d known all along. I just needed to hear it from someone else. And when I heard it, I just needed to listen.
Peace & Love,