Wednesday, July 6, 2011

One who panics


So, I don’t know how many of you have ever been in a place where you have a piece of writing that’s been… well, the nice word is critiqued. The truth is, someone tore a mile wide hole in it. There’s enough red ink to start a blood bank. This happened to me, and it made me mad. The whole thing wasn’t just a problem here or there, it was major ‘this whole section sucks’ kind of comments (over 100 of them, for a 20 page paper). And while I fumed and wallowed in my “But how can this be, we talked about this, isn’t this what he asked for? It’s impossible to fix this,” I had *that* moment. 

If you’ve never been in the place where your job depends on a piece of writing that’s been kicked back with the big ole “Really? My two year old could have done better,” you know what I mean. It’s terrible. Your back is against the wall, and if you don’t figure out how to fix your unfixable pile of crap, that’s it, no job. It’s a lot like saying “I’ll query 75 agents before I trunk this project,” and then getting 75 form rejections. 

But then, back against the wall and in a dark place, you see things differently. With novels, it could be the moment you trunk it (for the time being), or maybe it’s when you realize that if you do a complete rewrite everything will work out. Cornered and in a panic, the world looks different, and for me that’s really good. 

I don’t talk about it too much, but I’m dyslexic. Not terribly, mostly with the little things (pbqd—I hate these letters) and I read very slowly. The big problem is that my brain and my writing are products of my coping mechanisms. I skip things. I’ve never read the whole word, I read a few key letters and guess what the rest of it is (reading is really hard). And then I write like that. I skip logical steps (hence the comments about 2-year-olds out performing me), and I have circuitous ways of explaining things in my own head. They don’t work for other people. Sometimes, I can pull myself back and look at the world from the eyes of other people, and sometimes, not so much. 

Sometimes I need panic. 

I had to scrap the pile of poo, but I know how to write it now (sadly, this doesn’t mean cranky mean professor will like it). My guess is, this is one of those moments people mean when they say “Dig deep.” It’s not a pretty place, but the results of that place are incredible. I’m always amazed at how suffering taps into abilities not available in normal, everyday life. Someday, I’ll be able to just go there without being prodded with red hot pokers.

1 comment:

  1. This is sadly very true. No matter how prepared for critique you think you are, it's always shocking. You're always hoping to hear that it was perfect and they want to frame it.

    But as you said. After you get over that moment of shock and denial, something like stubborness in me kicks in. Too much telling, huh? I need to work on my POV skills? FINE. LET'S GET THIS DONE.

    And then I do everything I can to work on those problem areas.

    Good luck with your paper!

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