Your mind knows only some things. Your inner voice, your instincts, knows everything. If you listen to what you know instinctively, it will always lead you down the right path — Henry Winkler
Don’t you dare underestimate the power of you own instinct — Barbara Corcoran
Yeah, yeah. It’s a double-quote post. I don’t do those too often. I can’t remember if I did it before or if this is the first one.
Anyway, I’ve been thinking about instinct. More specifically, following your instincts as a writer/storyteller. I’ve harped about it before. And I’m going to harp about it again.
As I mentioned in previous posts, I finished the first draft of my second novel awhile ago. I was excited then, and I’m still excited now. But now, I have to figure out if I have to temper my excitement when the folks who agreed to be my guinea pigs, by reading the manuscript of the first draft, start coming back to me to give me their reactions.
My writing mentor has read the entire manuscript and has told me he thinks it’s great. Goodie. I can place a check mark beside his name. I won’t reveal what he said to me in the email because I don’t feel like sharing at the moment.
I have six more individuals who have yet to finish reading the manuscript. Actually, make that five because I received an email from one of them this morning.
Overall, this guinea pig liked it. He pointed out the things that he liked. He pointed out one thing he wanted to read more about. And there were a couple of things he thought I could dial back on. I was a little surprised on what he suggested I could (or is it should?) dial back on. And then he suggested something which I’m going to completely ignore. It’s not even up for discussion, quite frankly. I’m not in the mood to handhold the reader through the story.
Ah, the double-edged sword that comes with asking for feedback. Along with this double-edged sword is how to keep from second-guessing your instincts when you hear the feedback. It’s too easy to get derailed by it.
I think at this point, I have to remind myself again that there are millions of opinions out there. Millions of personal preferences and biases that go into those opinions. With that kind of variety, it’s impossible to make everyone happy.
What I take from from his feedback is that there are no obvious plot holes in the manuscript. Yay. Beyond that, everything he says is personal preference. I’m ignoring personal preferences. And also, personal preferences are influenced by the book publishing industry. The insistence of genres, the insistence of adhering to certain traits and characteristics that gives a story a specific genre designation. I can’t adhere to any of that. I’ve tried. I should know. My best foot forward just ends up getting watered down and I become an unhappy camper. Everybody is disappointed or frustrated.
So, the only thing I can do is follow my instincts and stick to my guns. If I’m happy with what I created, then that’s what matters. Fuck everyone else. They can go ahead and write the story they want to read.
Don’t get me wrong. I appreciate the feedback. I asked for feedback. I also asked for the double-edged sword. But this is where I decide if I allow myself to acquiesce to the opinion of a reader/s or make it real easy by just trying to please myself.
I have to decide what are personal preference comments and what are storytelling/narrative structure comments. I have my structure comments and notes from my writing mentor. That’s plenty.
The minute I give in to personal preference comments, I’m fucked, my story is fucked and my storytelling abilities are put into question which means they’re fucked. All this because of someone else’s personal preferences.
No, I can’t allow that to happen. Not getting ulcers because of it. Fuck that.
I own the stories I tell. I own the decisions and choices I make about them. I own every perceived mistake I will make with them.
I just have to remind myself to stick to my guns. Stick with my instincts because they haven’t failed me yet.