Having completed the writing for the steampunk story, now titled Kopithiam, I took Mr. King’s sagely advice and sent it off to a close group of friends with diverse tastes to read and review. He calls it “writing with the door open” since, after getting the story out as honestly as possible in private, you’ll now have to rework it for your audiences. I call it “get ready to be bashed”, which is what happens all the time.
The thing about writers is that we’re a group of highly egoistical and narcissistic people. We want people to adore us. Worship us. Some believe that it is their divine right to be loved simply because they tell stories. Others believe it’s because they tell good stories. Invariably, the both of them end up shocked when the world does not receive their work with universal acclaim, and when they receive – gasp! – negative feedback on their work.
It’s a scary thing, having someone read your work. Having poured your heart and soul into it (or I hope you do; God knows that there are too many writers in the world who don’t), it’s almost like asking someone out on a first date. You’re taking a leap of faith, and deep inside you, there’s the conviction that since you have worked so hard and mustered up the courage to show this to them, they should at least respond positively.
Most people will. Some won’t. And it’s the second group that you need to pay close attention to.
The truth is there is no perfect story. The one movie I agreed with my friend was perfect in execution was Mr. Scorsese’s Hugo, but some others might beg to differ. It may be the best story you’ve ever or could have written, yes; but it’s never going to be the best story that anyone will ever read. It’s why it’s important to pay attention to the people who didn’t feel your story, for whatever reasons.
Ever heard of the saying: “If one person said it, it’s a lie. If two people said it, it’s a conspiracy. If three or more people said it, it’s time to take a good hard look in the mirror”? It applies here. People have their unique tastes and preferences – but when something isn’t working for not one, not two, but a group of them, it’s time to take out your writer’s surgery toolkit for the 2nd draft.
(as far as 2nd drafts go, Mr. King’s advice again comes in handy. When someone has been in the business for half a century, you’d best sit down and listen to what they have to say. He says: 2nd draft = 1st draft – 10%. Your writing, as great as you think it is, can be clearer and more concise)
So the feedback on Kopithiam has come back from my constant readers, and the unified opinion seems to be this: good imagination, bad sex scenes. Considering all I know about sex is from other people’s writings, that’s not too shabby a review. I know I’ve done far worse.
Only thing left to do is to work on draft 2.