The search for objectivity
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Objectivity is a fickle mistress. I’m currently reading my manuscript for the gazillionth time and the emotional baggage that comes with it is unreal. The story so far:
After three or four months of writing and editing, I finished the “final draft” of my story, which we shall call *BT*, in September 2014. I started querying it to agents at that time. I queried my wonderful agent one month into querying, and was offered representation in Feb 2015. YAY! All things considered, a very clear and direct route. The full story of all that is *HERE* This post is about the manuscript.
In between November 2014 and Feb 2015, I did an extensive R&R for another agency which involved scrapping the latter half of the manuscript. So that was a major re-write.
My wonderful and ever-patient agent read both the original and the revised, and we decided that the best approach would be somewhere in the middle. So I re-wrote 50% of it again. At this point, let me tell you, my baby was like a patch-work quilt. There were snippets of “Alternate Universes” cropping up, and it meant that myself and my agent had to read BT in one long chunk, or all the past iterations would confuse things in our minds.
Good news; as of October 2015 – A full year after I started querying BT – we’re down to the small edits. Like getting character motivations clearer and making better word choices and stuff. HEAVEN! But the fact still remains that I have to read it in its entirety every time I edit, otherwise it all gets hella confusing. In the life of this manuscript, this “Final-For-Realsies-this-time” version is in its infancy. I’ve spent much longer with its defective brothers and sisters, and they battle for my headspace whenever I’m reading it.
Man. Objectivity took a train ride outta here about four months ago. My re-reading journey yesterday:
15% – This is the best thing I’ve ever written. I don’t think I’ll ever manage to top this. (depressed)
40% – This is utter bilge water. I can’t believe I ever thought I could write. (depressed)
60% – This is clunky, over-wordy. My metaphors are like bits of gravel in my drink. (depressed)
75% – Oooh. But that bit was clever. (confused)
100% – *crying with joy* This is an awesome story. I mean, if the final chapters make me cry and I’ve read this thing like 1000000 times, it must be good. Right?
*My lonely, cracking voice echoes into the void*
Honestly? I DON’T KNOW ANY MORE!! I’m too close to tell. I have no idea where BT sits in comparison with other works – my own or otherwise. My objectivity is shot. It’s that smoking console that’s causing the lights to dim on the Enterprise. RED ALERT. BOOM. Gone. See ya.
And let me tell you… having no objectivity? Not knowing whether BT is extraordinary, or average, or some old piece of chewing gum stuck to my shoe? It is TERRIFYING. It’s over a year’s worth of work. It’s – rightly or wrongly – a piece of work I’ve pinned more than a moderate chunk of hope onto. It’s…. UGH… It’s so confusing!!
But the only thing to do is knuckle down and keep editing; get through this stage, and see what happens next. Fake it till I make it on the faith front. That’s all I can do.
I remember the exact moment I got the idea for this story. It was almost two years ago now. I was sat on the bus on the way to work and I passed this god-awful orangey/yellowy door and BAM. This whole crazy idea exploded in my mind. I was so excited, I started writing it, there and then, on the Number 10 bus, on my phone! And you know what? The opening page is still almost identical to that note on my phone. That feeling was intense. It was pure, undiluted confidence. It was a commitment. In that one moment I knew this project would take up the next six months of my life (LOL! Past-Emily, you naive little crumpet) and I made that commitment instantly.
I was THAT sure this story needed to be made, and more than that, it needed to be made by me. It’s changed my life so much, and it isn’t even finished yet. That is one powerful brainfart to have on a sleepy Sunday morning. Isn’t it crazy? How life can change, just like that?
So I suppose I should remember this when I have doubts. Maybe print this sucker out and stick it by my monitor. Because I still believe in BT. I think it’s awesome. It’s a story that I’d love to read, and a story I’ve loved to write.
So I shall take a deep breath and fly blind. I’ll have faith. I have to.