Below is “A Writer Confesses'” dour report from last week. You would think our writer would be more upbeat after completion of her most recent Emma revisioning. Instead, she is assailed by doubt. Will she ever get out of the doldrums, buck up, and eat her Wheaties? (I refer here to the examination of her story by beta readers, whose job it will be to root out and hunt down errant backstories, submit story to freshness and fitness tests, and round up and imprison flat and/or false-sounding characters.)
I finished up my latest round of tinkering on Wednesday. This was followed by a completion of draft one on my new “big writing project,” Alaska, on Thursday. Meaning, Alaska-wise, that I’ve typed up the draft written in long-hand at writing sessions at Louisa’s Cafe, Chocolati’s on Greenwood, in the big black chair in our living room, and a few sessions at my old favorite writing haunt, Suzzallo Library.
The plan for months has been that once Emma was gussied up, spit-polished, and shined, I would make copies for distribution to my beta readers, mostly the folks I gather with on Mon. p.m.s at College Inn Pub to present and review shorter, 4-5 page snippets, along with some readers who attend Greater Seattle Writers, the writing group I facilitate.
The betas would then all gather for a pow-wow at College Inn Pub to discuss Emma, put their two-cent’s worth in, etc. at an event called Long-Form Critique.
So last night I go to the Long-Form Critique to join in the discussion of another College Inn colleague’s first act of a screenplay. I contribute my two cents. Others contribute. I listen and fulminate. I weigh the pros and cons. Pro: the screenwriter colleague is getting feedback on his work. Con: now he’s got to sift through to decide what is useful and what is not. He’s got to separate out the spots where betas are steering him off course from his vision and where their guidance is spot on with the ultimate goal of furthering his vision and strengthening the story germ he’s trying to nurture.
Question: Does Writer Katz really want to go there with Em, a novel into which she has already put such an inordinate amount of time, energy, and life blood? Is that even what she’s looking for? Is her purpose in doing the Long-Form not so much to hear betas’ “ideas for improving Emma,” as it is to hear them say how wonderful it is? The writing road is a lonely road. The moments of recognition and ego-stroking few. So she wants praise?
Not a good plan, Writer Katz. So, today, I’m resolved to put my writing energies, those kinds of writing energies, into the dreaded task of finding an agent, soliciting editors and publishers as to their interest in having a go with Emma.