Many of you have blogged about how being part of a critique group can at times challenge you to remain true to yourself as a writer. I had never experienced that. I had been able to take feedback that I was in accord and implement it, and I was able to discard feedback that I knew just didn’t agree with my style, voice, whatever you will call it.
Last week, at my meeting, I left thoroughly confused. I received some feedback that I’ve been mulling over since. Some feedback that if I implement will change my work and it will no longer be my own. I came to this understanding by doing two things. The first was to write. Not re-write! Just to write. I haven’t been steadily writing (being soooo sleep deprived and in a house were not a day does not go by where at least one member is not sick! Any other moms of young kids go through this? Any tips?? And how about how to get baby to sleep? third child – you’d think I know this by now!).
Mommy rants aside, I was not in tune with myself as a writer. So I wrote, to remind myself of who I was, to find my voice and my style. It was a very simple thing. Really all I needed to do was write. Once that was done, I began to think about my novel. What was it about? Where is it going? What ‘s the theme, the message? And in this particular case how do I want it portrayed?
I knew all these answers. This is no new novel after all, I’ve been at for some time. The feedback that would emphasize these elements in my novel, bring them out, make them shine, well that’s definitely feedback to use. But the feedback that would change it? I have to dismiss it. That’s not to say that writing is static in any way. From conception to what we decide is final product massive changes are undergone. Yet, we remain true to the heart of the story.
I love my group, and all this wouldn’t change that one tiny bit. Without them I wouldn’t have undergone this challenge that made me more certain about who I am as a writer. It was during this same meeting that talk about moving one of my scenes gave rise to the creation of a new opening scene in my mind as I drove home. One I became very excited about. Even if it changes again and again and again.
How about you? Is this something you’ve ever struggled with?