Friday, October 29, 2010

Going, going....Gone!

Peter Here.  Today I completed revisions on my latest manuscript. I have been through it so many times now, every word is swimming around my head. I have spell-checked it, checked for repetitions, cut, added, written, re-written, read, re-read, I’m still endeavouring to figure out what else I can do.

Because what I’m really up to is trying my level best to postpone the evil moment - when I hit the return key and send the manuscript winging its way through the ether to my editor.

For the moment I do that, I have lost control. It is out there to be judged. No longer in my head or in my computer, but under the critical eye of a seasoned professional who could so easily turn around and with a few cutting words dismiss all the blood, sweat and tears of months of work.

We always hope for praise, confirmation of our writing genius. And as long as the book remains only with us, we can believe it ourselves. But the minute it leaves our hands all our doubts and insecurities take over. Is that character really credible? Maybe the ending doesn’t really work? What if the reader figures out whodunnit halfway through? Maybe I didn’t bury the clues well enough!

People always say, you are only as good as your last book. Wrong! You are only as good as your next one, and every time you sit down to write you are haunted by the thought that this time you’re gonna get found out.

Who would be a writer? What kind of paranoid masochists are we?

Oh, well. Can’t put it off any longer, I suppose. I had hoped this blog would run to a few more paragraphs so I could procrastinate a little more. But I’m all out of excuses now.

Word-processing document saved as PDF. Attached to email. Finger hovering over the mouse, cursor hovering over Send...

Oh, dammit! Here goes. Click!




violaine said...

Exciting! I'm sure it will be great, and personally I never guessed "whodunnit" before the end! Very good luck to the next "Peter May".

peter_may said...

Thanks, V. I just received confirmation of receipt from my editor who tells me he is excited do read it. I hope he is just as excited at the end as at the beginning!

Rick Blechta said...

Peter, I can assure you that every creative artist feels this way. What if your ms was read in public rather than by your editor? Now THAT'S stress. Imagine the crushing defeat of an audience that boos or laughs or simply walks out. Composers, playwrights, artists go through that every time a work is premiered.

I think we writers have it good — not that it makes it any less stressful. Best of luck with the new book!

peter_may said...

As someone who spent ten years playing in a band, Rick, I know only too painfully well what it's like to feel the judgment of an audience. Great when it goes with you, crushing when it doesn't. I think any artist who puts his work out there to be judged makes himself horribly vulnerable. Not just writers, you're right. I recently got dragged down into a nightclub one sunny Paris afternoon to sprawl in a comfortable armchair and watch the first showing of a movie shot in Macau. The only other people in the audience were the movie's financiers - and it was being presented to them by a very nervous director. The film was terrible, and I think the director died a little - though maybe not as much as the people who had put up the money! But in the end, no matter how much I might empathize with those other artists, the only thing on my mind when I hit the Send button this morning was how MY work was going to be received. And, of course, in the final event, our work is judged by the public at large. They express their verdict by buying it - or not.

Rick Blechta said...

The first review I ever got for something I'd written (a musical composition) while attending McGill in Montreal was reviewed in the university newspaper as "anal scribblings".

Ouch! I remember well how crushed I was and my girlfriend (now wife) wanted to find the reviewer (a smarmy bastard) and punch his lights out. She's a redhead...

peter_may said...

Hell, Rick, why did you stop her!!

Janice said...

Lovely story, Rick. You chose the right partner! When you're vulnerable, as creative people are, you have to treasure and look after the people that believe in you and are always there for you.

When I was a young TV writer, the director of one of my shows decided he could improve my script my making a few of his own changes. When I complained, he threw me out of the control room. The script editor of the show, finding me in tears in the corridor, curtailed his initial impulse to punch the director's lights out, but instead burst into the producer's office proclaiming: "Nobody treats my writers like that!" to make an official complaint.

What was amazing was, this was a script editor who had given me a really hard time on that show, lecturing me, making me do rewrites. There was no romance, not even affection between us. In fact I didn't think he liked me very much.

As I said, having someone who believes in you and sticks up for you means a lot.

Which is probably why several years later I married that script editor, and last Wednesday, we celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary.