When my WIP became a first draft in December 2009, it was a tangled mess of internal inconsistencies, not unlike the basket in which I dump my necklaces. I spent much of February trying to iron out the inconsistencies and bring sense into the order in which the chapters appear. Unfortunately, February was also the month in which I read three really awesome books, and my manuscript looked pathetic in comparison.
I was convinced that I would be doing myself and the world a favour by deleting the entire WIP folder, but three wonderfully supportive people (thank you Tami, Fiona and Marian) convinced me that I should give it to my first readers to get a different perspective. That made sense, and in the last week of February, I sent the manuscript to three people who had volunteered to read it, and to one who hadn't- the only question I wanted answered was whether I should trash the whole project, or invest time into knocking it into shape. A week later, I sent it to two schoolmates, because I realised they would perhaps have a better sense of what would work in the Indian scenario.
Then Silence! I knew that everyone had a life to lead. There were chapters to write, a wedding to prepare for, young kids to mind, and day jobs. It was unrealistic to expect any feedback so soon. But, despite knowing that, the silence was eerie. Did everyone hate it so much they did not want to tell me anything, even though I had specifically asked them to tell me just that? It was scary. I felt the same sick worry that a Mother in the pre-mobile phone days must have felt on the first day that her child used public transportation to get to school and back - I knew I should not be building scenarios just yet, but how else to occupy the time?
And then I heard back from my schoolmate. She said she liked the story and my style of writing. She said I seemed to understand the minds of my characters. Then, huge pause........ 'it is a wonderful story if you are writing for your friends", she said. "But you need to revise extensively before it can be ready for publication." For the next ten minutes she listed out where the pace needed to be tightened, and where the motivations of the characters didn't seem plausible enough. She asked me to add more action within the workplace, and told me to tone down a few scenes. The feedback was invaluable, because it came from someone who could analyse story structure much better that I could ever hope to. But more than anything else, her feedback made me believe that the story was worth expending more energy on.
Hard work never scared me- it is not going to start scaring me now- but it is nice to know there is a purpose to the hard work.
Revision days ahead. Should be fun!!!
And now, one of my characters has decided she wants to start smoking. What does one do with these pesky, whimsical characters?