Monday, May 13, 2013

Sliding In

By Pamela 

My softball girl (R) with her teammate.
Last week at my girl's softball game, as the third inning was about to start, the opposing team's catcher hurled the ball back to their pitcher, who wasn't looking, and it hit her in the head. Granted, the catcher didn't have an arm at all and it was more of a lob, but the pitcher was understandably upset and grabbed her forehead and cried. Possibly a little due to shock that the ball didn't bounce first before reaching the mound.

The pitcher's mom was apparently one of the five coaches in the dugout (it takes a village to herd a team of ten-year-olds), and she flew onto the field to assist her daughter. Mom's sprint to the mound ended as she slipped on the pitching rubber and wiped out, twisting her knee and ankle thus assuring she needed help off the field. After the game we saw her husband carrying her fireman-style to the car to take her for X-rays. Her daughter? She recovered enough to stay on the field and pitch. At the next game, Mom was wearing a boot--just one and it wasn't made of leather. 

This made me think about how we sometimes overreact to feedback when it comes to our writing. Someone we entrust with our manuscript doesn't like one of our characters, and so we storm into morphing her from a wallflower to a social butterfly. Another helpful early reader thinks our story would be better told from first-person, and so we slide headfirst into changing every 'she' to 'I', every 'they' to 'we'. The next person in line suggests the setting should take center stage, and we spend hours dropping in elements related to the weather, the landscape, the regional colloquialisms.

In the end, our critics think our story is much improved while we're the ones stuck sporting an ugly blue boot with noisy Velcro straps--not to mention the pain of living with a manuscript that isn't really ours, but the product of those around us.

I know my manuscripts have improved greatly from the advice of the women on this blog, but have I employed EVERY suggestion offered up? No, not at all. And I hope I take a moment to consider the changes before diving in with edits. Like the mom in the dugout who should have waited a moment or two or five before seeing if her still-standing daughter would be just fine without her assistance (a lesson I think would serve them both well later in life), as writers I think we're better served if we take our time in weighing the opinions of our early readers.

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