I'd like to believe that I'm a smart guy. In fact, I pride myself on my ability to listen fully. Also, I'm not defensive on most things (most) and fairly open-minded to the possibility of anything.
So far, this has translated well with my writing. Every feedback that I've gotten I've been able to find a way to make my work better.
Maybe not so true with my second novel. I've been revising Rocky Peak for a few weeks now. My mentor, Michael Levin, gave me fantastic feedback (as usual) but he wanted me to push the conflict and the problem further. Make it bigger.
So I did. After I shared it with him, we had what I thought was a repeat conversation.
"Good, very good. But we've seen that before. Escalate it, bring something new to the reader."
Hmm... okay. So I brainstormed some more and come up with the ground breaking idea. Send it off.
And again... "Yes. I get it. But, we've seen that in x book, and y movie. It needs to be fresh. Escalate it."
It didn't quite sink in until I watched Nacho Libre. Nacho Libre???? Yes, my friend, there's a lot of wisdom that comes from the lips of Jack Black. The specific scene is the one where his "Luchador" partner (Esqueleto) tells Nacho, that he hates all the orphans.
The reality was that I didn't want to hear what I was being told. I wasn't ready -- emotionally -- to take my characters there. Because I knew what it would imply -- There would be hurt, pain, and possibly loss. I didn't want to do that to them. I am too attached to them. I care for them. But isn't that when it really hurts in life? We suffer over people we know, scenarios that we can relate to, pain that we've experienced in the past. We may not want to open those wounds. We may not want to relive them, but if we don't, are we being honest. Are we really writing what is in our heart?
Last night was tough. When reality stares at you, do you look away, or face it with courage?
I outlined my thoughts and got ready to kill my darlings. By just past midnight, I had what I thought was powerful -- and painful. I haven't made the revisions yet, as I'm waiting for feedback. But when I do, I will drop head first into a roller coaster ride. And that's good. I should go through that, because if it hurts me, then I will give my reader something that will be meaningful.
I must do right by my reader. And the reader is who really counts... after all, I'm one of them.
Fight the good fight.