Critique sentimentalist

There is a curious hollow feeling that comes from sending a draft of novel off to be critiqued.

It has been eating focus, attention, concentration, energy–it has been monopolizing as much brain as is available and then some–and now it is done. Gone. Off to other garner other people’s thoughts. Not productive to fiddle with it any more for awhile, and yet not done either.

I’m doing something new this time. I’m going off for a week at the end of September to participate in a peer workshop–other people who have had either novels or a bunch of short stories published will converge on an undisclosed location, and we will all critique each other’s openings, and then we will do smaller-group in-depth critiques later in the week. (Seriously I’m not sure how undisclosed it’s supposed to be, I just haven’t seen anyone else talking about the details, so I’m staying vague.) I sent them a draft of Itasca Peterson, Wendigo Hunter. And we’ll see how this goes. I don’t know any of these people very well, but their work is cool, so that feels, if anything, even more interesting than if it was a retreat with people who were already close friends. And then I will come home and do critiques of the same work with people I know much better, so parallax is our friend, people, parallax is definitely our friend.

And…this is a thing I honestly love about writing. I really, really love this. If you catch me in the wrong mood, I will wax sentimental and get a little choked up. Because in writing, in speculative fiction in particular, we take it for granted–it is a totally normal thing to do–that we will get to look at other people’s awesome things and help make them a little more awesome. Think about that for a moment. There are some other jobs for which it works that way, sure–for which a project is primarily someone else’s and it is assumed that you will get to take your time and help make it better. But mostly not. Mostly you are either working together on something or you’re not helping.

I like helping.

I like cooperation.

Last weekend we had a marathon crit session for someone in my regular group. We hadn’t met for several months, but there we were, back at it again, here’s what I think the heart of this book is, here’s what I think didn’t quite do what you wanted it to, have a homemade cookie and enhance the emotional core of your creative work.

Isn’t that an awesome thing?

Well, I think it is.

So I am behind on all sorts of things. Like, I have not posted about my story “Ten Stamps Viewed Under Water,” which is in F&SF for Sept/Oct, and I have not posted about Alec’s story either, and I have generally had my head in fierce 11-year-olds who hunt monsters. But honestly that is a great place to have my head, and I like it. And also in crits, and I will continue to have my head there for awhile.

And also I get to write short stories now, and you can’t imagine how excited I am. Maybe you can. But honestly I am one of those people who likes to write rather than liking to have written, so it was less “Yay book done” and more “Yay get to write stories now whew.”

Except for having to take days off sometimes. That’s still a thing.

But yeah. A curious hollow feeling. And a love of cooperation. That’s where we are right now. Hi.