Resistance and where it leads


The DIYMFA QotW for week 8:

“Share an example of a time when resistance has pointed you toward a writing project that was juicy and high-stakes . . . and maybe even a little bit scary. Did you face that fear and overcome your resistance? What was the result of pursuing (or not pursuing) that project?”

To be honest, I don’t feel a lot of resistance as far as pursuing a writing project. I tend to follow my instincts, or my muse, if you prefer, and write what the heck I want.

You may see this as a naive attitude, but enough published authors, experienced editors and agents have pointed out the futility of trying to write to the market, that I’ve taken at least that much to heart.

I have an idea file that’s about fifteen novel ideas backlogged. Sometimes it’s hard to decide which one to pursue, but once I’ve decided, I generally stick with it until the draft is done . . . and revised . . . and critiqued . . . and revised . . . and edited . . . and revised . . . and beta read . . . and revised . . . and queried . . . but that’s as far as I’ve gotten (with novels).

I’ve had a couple of science fiction short stories published (for paying markets, even), but even with my short fiction, if I have a suitable idea, I write the piece until it’s done. Substitute submitting for querying in the above novel equation, and I’ve been accepted, worked with the publication’s editors to refine the piece, and been published.

When an editor suggests changes with a piece of short fiction, I’ve been very accommodating. I’ve generally accepted the suggested changes or made clarifications in the particular story elements so the changes are no longer necessary.

I can see pretty clearly and quickly with a piece of short fiction what makes sense to change and what does not.

Where I feel resistance is when, whether a critique partner, editor, or beta reader, someone suggests a major change to a novel I’ve written.

I generally have to sit with the suggested changes for a while, until I can see clearly the reasons why the changes were suggested. Then I can (more) objectively judge whether to adopt them or not.

Case in point: the editor for my first novel suggested eliminating a character. It took me a long time to realize she was right. She’d also suggested eliminating a couple of extraneous point of view characters, which I accepted and changed right away. A critique partner for the same novel didn’t like the number and types of POV I was using, and, initially, I changed everything. Later, however, I realized that my original choices made sense for the story I was telling and after I have eliminated the extraneous POV’s and the extraneous character, I changed everything back.

So, it works both ways for me. Some things I should change but am slow to act on the advice. Other things I change, but then realize there were compelling reasons why I made the decision in the first place.

Really, I’m still working through the whole process, developing my sense as a creator regarding which suggestions and advice to act on and which not to. As things progress, I find myself making better initial creative choices (I think).

I added the ‘I think’ in parentheses because I’m still not sure whether I’ve done this to avoid the criticism and/or potential conflict that results. I avoid conflict in life, generally. I kind of hate it. And really, that’s not a good reason, on its own, to change a creative work.

Ultimately, I’m always open to learning anything about my craft from anyone. I just get reluctant when I’m not sure of the motivation behind the advice I’m given.

Professional or experienced editors, I trust.

Unfortunately, it’s possible to be an excellent writer and not know a thing about editing, or critiquing, or beta reading. Telling me how you would have written the story doesn’t help me. Giving me your reasoning or thought process along with the suggestion allows me to assess your advice and accept it in the spirit it was offered, whether I choose to act upon it or not.

I think this all stems from my experience during my MA, which I’ve written about enough that you’re probably all sick of hearing about it by now 😛

So, Gabriela’s question didn’t really take me in the expected direction, but this is where I experience resistance.

Where do you experience resistance?

Muse-inks

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