My husband took it far worse than I.
Our group met at my house for the first time since Amy, Lisa and I met Lynne. After pleasantries and general business, we pretended I was invisible and they critiqued my first full draft. Having done my own initial review, I was not surprised as they confirmed certain elements as strengths and of course, as weaknesses.
As after each of these full draft sessions, the reviewers’ faces crinkled in concern. Is this overwhelming? Do you know criticism comes from the heart, that you have Something, that we want to help you prepare to revise? As always, the reviewee was grateful, smiling despite the faults found, indeed, because of them. Confirmation of direction, next steps clear.
After they left, my husband, who had been puttering in the background, ears wide open, looked stunned. “You did all that work! How much of this do you take? Do you listen to everything they say? Where do you go from here?”
Up. Out. Better.
Fiction as a process is only revealed to people who throw themselves into it in a true way. I have always written, I write for work; still, I committed myself to fiction in a deeper way only two or three years ago. I didn't realize the difference at the time. It is only by doing, reading, doing, listening and doing, that the layers of skill and thought and craft required to complete a work, in every sense, become clear.
I explained to my husband that writing -- including revision -- is like building a house. The first draft is the shell, the walls, the layout. To put them up is a huge accomplishment, and to the outside world, the house appears done. Like new construction, however, it is highly unlikely to sell because of course, it is not finished. Still, you can walk through a first draft to see what it will become, its potential. You start a list of to-do’s to complete it. Structural pieces to shift, details to refine. Decorating, if you will, of scenes, of characters, of wordplay.
My husband heard, really for the first time, how far a first draft sometimes needs to progress before it is ready. What I heard from the group is that I have a house with potential. I am excited to move back through it, room by room, to make it a proper home for my story and characters.