Praise is like refined sugar . . .
I’m in the process of the second last revision of my manuscript. I say second last because I’ve given it to two very trustworthy friends on another side of the world. Whilst they read and report I could of course, rest and re-gird my loins. But I decided instead to revise it myself .
I printed it off and have been reading with a red pen, both aloud and silently and to my amazement, the most elementary issues are being flagged. My computer is missing the occasional spelling error. I am having to correct U.S English and replace it with Queen’s English. There are punctuation issues as well. And I have spotted a continuity issue which hadn’t been followed through on a previous draft. So this week, I shall edit and smooth out and then, when the comments return from O/S, I shall consider them in the light of what I want to achieve.
I’m extremely lucky as those two friends are eminently qualified to comment. One is an artist bookmaker and formerly employed in the theatre arts and the other is also an artist bookmaker, but also an ex-editor. Both are in tune with the written word, are voracious readers and most importantly are scrupulously honest in their critiques.
One said recently: ‘Praise is refined sugar, criticism is dark green leafy vegetables.’ And I was touched that whilst both wish to support the future of this latest novel, neither will favour it on the grounds of the friendship. That’s the most important thing for me.
The refined sugar friend went on to say: ‘I’m ashamed of myself sometimes that I have such a sweet tooth.’ But then we all crave praise like we crave (well, I do) chocolate. How pointless it is though, to have a false sense of the quality of a piece. Writers are up against it everywhere . . . the Global Financial Crisis, the amount of wannabe’s in competition with them, editorial subjectivity, and so on. So unless one can present the most original story in a perfect form, that will entertain a decent swag of the marketplace, one is just going to remain a wannabe.
So I’m expecting honest critique from the U.S. A. I don’t expect any lilies to be gilded and I’ll look forward to absorbing the comment and using it as a springboard. Once it’s all done, and I know I’ve given it my absolute best shot, I’ll consign the ms back to London.
And whilst it then remains a waiting game until the consultancy decides yes or no, there really is no rest for a writer. Onwards and upwards, and back into the WIP. Isn’t that right?