Last night, my husband and I sat around for a while as I worked out some thorny plot issues verbally with him. I'm determined to do my best to make the plotting very tight, and to avoid those convenient little episodes that are oh-so-handy in terms of moving the plot along. If some event happens, I want there to be a reason for it, and so I was using him as a sounding board, trying to figure out which of the options I was playing around with struck him as the most believable. It was extraordinarily helpful. Though he's always been supportive of me, reading my manuscripts and offering feedback, I think this was the first time I really used him in this capacity. I guess this is because, while my novel is infinitely interesting to me, the last thing I want to do is bore other people to death talking about my work.
Really, what I'd like to do is to try to create a smaller, more focused group of fellow writers. While going to the large group is extremely helpful, it's also a bit limiting because, naturally, we want to give everyone a chance to share some of their work, which means we only have time for small excerpts from each person. I used to think writing was an entirely lonely exercise, and in some ways it is. However, as I've worked on some collaborative projects and become involved in writers' groups, what I've found is that it can be really eye-opening to sit and toss ideas around with other writers. I have a teaching background, so this doesn't entirely come as a surprise to me. One of the things I liked doing as a teacher was attending conferences or team meetings where we'd share activities we'd done in class. It inevitably resulted in surging creativity as the thoughts of one person were embellished by another person, and so on.
At the end of the day, if this novel becomes successful, it will be the direct result of not just my own writing, but of all of the assistance I've received from various friends and family members. Without their contributions, the novel would definitely not be what it is, nor would it continue to evolve as it has without their feedback. This, for me, is the most rewarding part of writing. For a long time, I kept my work to myself because I was afraid of criticism, but now that I've taken a leap, I find the feedback and the time others devote not only feeds my creativity, it makes me a better writer.
And now, a small tidbit. This particular bit of conversation really speaks to me.
“That’s always what people say, when they’re busy stripping away rights. If you work everyone up into enough of a panic, they’ll be glad to hand you things they’d normally never even think of giving up,” Mal told her. “Don’t believe me? I can give you plenty of books on the topic—books you’ve likely never seen in your life. Why do you think that is?”