When is a Manuscript Like a Bikini?

By CBramkamp creative writing Comments Off on When is a Manuscript Like a Bikini?

How many of us study our reflections and focus on the flaws to the exclusion of everything else?  I have body parts on which I zero in on with laser intensity to exclusion of larger things that are pretty good. ( I have terrible, hairy eye brows and I don’t remember that I have pretty good legs and ankles).
We view our soon to be finished stories and novels in the same way.  On the second, third or fourth reading, our  manuscript reflects back to us with the accuracy of a  fun house  mirror.  We find two misplaced commas and one  poor word choice and suddenly the whole book needs a re-write; it’s worthless!  We’d put it on an immediate trendy diet if we could!
Or we only imagine the big beautiful image of the work because we can’t look at it closely anymore.  This is like only regarding   our image in one small bathroom mirror that frames our face this enabling us to maintain     a plethora of illusions.   This may be helpful to promote a good body image, but it’s not a productive approach for a manuscript.  We can’t believe that our book is just fine because all seven words in the title page are correctly spelled.
Yet tackling that manuscript can be like confronting our bodies in a three sided mirror illuminated with greenish florescent lights.   The image is so shocking it brings you to tears.
How then, can we avoid avoidance?
Hand over the work to someone else,  get  a second opinion. The reader should be sympathetic but firm, the reader should be able to tell you the truth and you should picked a reader whose opinion you respect.  The reader can give you a honest assessment of  the strengths or weakness of the work in the same way a friend can  gently suggests that the white bikini is not your, ahem, style.
The problem with a creative work is that it is OUR creative work.  We come to a point where we just cannot see it anymore and we either hate all of it or linger over the few paragraphs that delight us.
I know that I will stand in front of the fun house mirror, dressed in a tiny bikini and completely overlook the protruding stomach in favor of scrutinizing my eyebrows.
The same can happen in our second and third drafts.
For your manuscript, bring   in a friend or a writing group.  When it comes to swimwear,  leave the white bikini  in the store.

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