Taking a break from the pirate ship, I'm deep into revisions of Ghosts of Innocence after the critiques received last month.
"Deep into" actually means "somewhere on page two".
It is slow, hard work.
And rather worrisome to my angst-ridden mind.
Writing is fiercely subjective - something that agents constantly remind writers of in their kindly form rejections. That goes for critiques, too. Every word of advice in a collection of critiques is, in its own way, true and valuable. It is a potential reader's honest reaction. And it is highly likely to be contradicted by another critter's advice.
This makes it tough to process critiques and work out how to make use of their words of wisdom. I've concluded that processing critiques has to be just as ruthless (on the part of the author) as the critiquing itself, because trying to please everyone can be deeply damaging to the writing. But it is hard to consciously set aside advice that a colleague has put so much effort into giving.
In picking my way through what to pay attention to and what to ignore, I can at least take refuge in the fact that it is mathematically impossible to accommodate everyone. I had, for example, at least three different suggestions for alternative opening lines. And most specific points that one critter liked another one didn't, and vice versa. But that just highlights how subjective the process is.
This means that there is a serious danger of simply going round in circles from one round of revisions to the next. Something I've already fallen foul of in my opening page this year. My biggest fear is that I'll end up with something not better, just different. Something that may pacify the last group of critiquers, but will still be nowhere near satisfactory to the next.
But I know I need to do something. My first rounds of querying netted a total of three requests for partials and a load of form rejections. I've got a fair level of confidence in my query letter from reviews in several forums, so my guess is that the manuscript is letting me down. It needs to be both different and better.
I need to review the critiques with a critical eye, pulling out what makes sense to me, and rebuild the story taking care not to lose myself in the process.