I realize now that I have gone about this book-writing thing backwards compared to most writers.
Most writers do the collaborating up front. They take do the logical, open-minded approach of joining writers’ groups and exchanging chapters for critiques all along the way. Now that I’m nearly finished, I am sharing excerpts more and more freely and comfortably, but before that, my sharing was sparse and informal. It’s not that I didn’t think my work could use critiquing; it seems to me that that’s a given for all but the most supernaturally gifted writers.
But for me, the joy of this project has come from the hours of stolen, solitary writing and imagining time – the exercise of seeing what my brain could conjure up. I knew myself well enough to be able to forecast the effect that writing groups and regular feedback would have – I would have begun second-guessing many of my decisions, and the joy of sitting around imagining the next twist and turn would have been lost.
I had to daydream and scribble and sketch and slowly type my way through the story alone and get the bones in place before throwing the story out for critique. I guess pragmatism would call for getting real-world feedback as early and often as possible in order to get to the desired end: a published book.
But this has always been as much about the — I apologize in advance for this tired metaphor – journey as it has the destination, and even if my solitary process means I’m left with a manuscript that doesn’t fly in the real world, I wouldn’t change anything.