Thursday, March 29, 2012

Sometimes the insecurity angel is right.

Neil Gaiman says that if an author picks up a brand new copy of her/his book, it will fall open to a page with a typo. This always happens. Fact of life. I agree with him, it's a law of the universe, like Reavers are bad, the enemy's gate is down, and ghosts can't cross salt.

Even though I knew it was past the point of no return and I was letting myself in for nothing but heartache, I opened my contest entry and looked at it again. I knew it was a bad idea. I fucking knew it.

What did I find? I didn't put a character name in ALL CAPS. That's right, you heard me. On page nine I introduce one of the minor characters and I DIDN'T CAPITALIZE HER NAME. WTF? I got a professional to help me with my formatting, she even flagged it, and I still managed to screw it up!


The worst part is just before I hit send I had a wild flash of terror, 'Maybe I should read it through just one more time...' and I ruthlessly squelched it. I thought it was just my insecurity angel weighing in. Y'know, the little voice on my shoulder telling me that everything sucks and no one will like it and I better just quit before I humiliate myself in front of the whole world? That voice I've learned to ignore, but it still just won't shut up?

Seems I've learned to ignore it too well.

'No!' I says to my insecurity angel. 'You're just being paranoid.

Insecurity angel whined, 'No really, you really should give it just one more last read through! Trust me! Always quadruple check! And check again! In fact, why don't you sit on it another few weeks and check again?'

I ignored my insecurity angel and sent it in. Why didn't I listen? Why why why???

Now I'm in agony. Am I going to get disqualified for that? I've read story after story about contest readers looking for a reason to bounce scripts. What if that's it? I messed up that one little thing and that's it, it's over? It's within the first ten pages even. What if they're not totally loving it, and right when they're making the decision if they want to keep going they see that and round-file it? ARGH!

They don't even announce the semi-finalists until the tail end of July. I now have three months to beat myself up over this. Three months. I don't know how I'm going to function. I could barely sleep last night.

I could go on their facebook page and ask about it... but that would make me look even more needy and neurotic than ever. The insecurity angel would win if I did that. But it would give everyone else a boost, they could see my post and say gleefully to themselves, 'Well, at least I didn't screw that up! What a hack!'

What if by some supreme miracle the reader didn't notice and all I accomplished was pointing it out? 'Oh hey, you did make a mistake there, better luck next year!' Thunk goes the script as it hits the recycle bin.

I just have to suck it up. I wanted a new and more creative mistake, but not like an actual mistake. More like a... creative difference that I could argue my way out of. Yeah, that's what I wanted. I long for the good ol' days when I was agonizing over commas. Life was easier then.

I really should be careful what I wish for.

Damn it.

I must distract myself with something else. Horror. Lots of people dying gruesomely, that should do nicely. I finished Draft 0 of the Horror movie, printed it out, and left it on the shelf in the office. Which turned out to be a bad place for it because every time I walked in there I wanted to pick it up and start editing. Which kind of defeated the purpose of letting it marinate for a week. 'You'll never get a good sear if you keep poking at it...'

Nope, nope, nope, gotta leave it alone for a full week! It was like trying to leave a tray of chocolate chip cookies alone. Or not picking up the edge of a steak to see if it was time to flip it yet. I'm not sure where I'm going with the food analogy. I blame blogging while hungry. Where was I? Oh yes, letting the draft rest. So it's juicy and tender instead of dry and chewy.

It was a struggle, but I made it, and settled down seven whole days later with only a minor lapse or two to start editing, which... was strange. I thought when I put the draft up that all the characters were unique little snowflakes with a unique little voice and when I got the draft back down... that wasn't so. 

Fixed that, and now I'm at the craving feedback point.

I asked a few beloved, cherished, (un)lucky friends and family to read it. So far the only feedback I got was from my husband, and I totally did not arrange the evening so he had absolutely nothing else to do and stand over him to make him finish the story in one sitting. 

All he said was I've reached Stephen King levels of fucked up.

Awesome. I can just take that to the agents and production companies, 'My husband says...'

I tried to get him to be a little more specific. "Was part of it confusing? Was part of it boring? Was the ending obvious? Did the characters feel like unique people?" All of that is vital, vital information!

Him: 'Naw. It's okay."

Yup. I'm not sure how to began the next draft because I know it's not okay. Hopefully the others will weight in with something more specific. There's two parts I think I'm going to cut entirely and a few other things that if even one other person brought that scene up... I would know for sure that there is something not working. I just want validation, okay?

Between my insecurity angel being right (for once) and my gut twinging 'something isn't working' with the horror... I guess figuring out which one to trust is part of being a writer.

That and drowning my typo sorrows in a very nice pale ale, medium rare steak and a bucket of ice cream. I need comfort food right now. 

Unfortunately that probably needs to be followed by a swift kick in the pants so I'll quit wallowing and get back to work. 

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