Honesty is one of those double edged blades that you have to handle carefully otherwise you stab not only those around you but yourself.
This week I did something very difficult. I beta read a manuscript and wrote a critique on it. The writing itself was good, strong sense of showing and not telling. The author had a good character and a great perspective of how she thought. However, the plot was weak with to many sub-plots and “oh sparklies” thrown in. While I liked the character, I felt that she was to wishy-washy in some parts. I did not do a full critique. I did read the book in its entirety, however, I only did critical critiques in 7 chapters. I debated on how I was going to put this in email back to the author. Finally after putting it off for several days, I wrote my response, attached the critiques and emailed it off.
The author told me thank you and though I offered to critique the rest, I was told that it was unnecessary. At least I did not get my head taken off. Nor have I been shunned for my critique.
Now this makes me wonder about my own characters. Not the shorts (or mostly not the shorts) but the novel characters. Have they been developed enough? Are they sound? Do they make character decisions based on the character or by the story? It is going to make me very critical of my writing for a while.
I hope that I know my characters well enough that I can portray them in the right light. It is difficult to do sometimes when you want them to do this and they rum off and do that. You can tweek them a bit, but it is not always a good idea. Characters have their own idea of what to do and how to do it. Tweeking too much, will leave you with a character that is not whole.
Honesty also leads me to ask, am I putting enough effort into my writing?
Well, I know I still have a lot to learn about the craft, studying, research, and the act of writing itself is the only way I have progressed and will keep progressing. Some days writing is achingly hard and others it is effortlessly easy. Most days are somewhere in between. I go to sleep at night powering my thoughts through a plot line or asking my character if he/she would do this/that. My free time is spent at the keyboard, fingers dancing over the letters as I watch them float on the screen. I carry a notebook with me always, writing notes so that I do not forget an idea. I think I spend a great deal of time in writing and I hope to spend more soon.
The last honest question is: am I ready?
I think I am. I want to know if other people respond to my writing more than just the few friends that I allow to read it. I want to know that although this might not be a huge career for me, I can at least have some small income floating in. I want to know that my readers care as much about my characters as I do. I want to open up these worlds that flash behind my eyelids to the world.
Am I ready?