Last night, I had a conversation with my BFF in LA (the screenwriter) about BLAQUE.
Okay, that’s a lie; it wasn’t a conversation. It was 2.5 hours of her practically smashing my head into a metaphoric mirror. She read the first 30 pages, alright…and was pissed.
If this sounds familiar, it’s because it happened a year ago as well. Same pages, different compliant. By the beginning of hour two of this “conversation,” I was ready to scrap the entire project.
“It’s obvious I suck at the spy genre,” I grumbled at one point.
She wasn’t going to stand for me falling on daggers. “Did I say that?” she shot back. “No. I said that I see too much of your BS in your writing, and it is messing it up. Your story plot is solid, the problem is your characters don’t fucking emote.”
I’m not going to go into massive detail about the rest of the conversation. I will say that the two biggest problems she saw with the opening (Mysty’s lack of emotion and my lack of knowledge of how spies should behave) are directly related to my own personal fears.
For that reason, she said, I must finish this novel.
BLAQUE has done something no other piece of mine has done; it has exposed my weaknesses, not in writing, but in my very being. Writing, she said, is never my problem. My problem is that I am in the way of my writing.
By the time we got off the phone, I was feeling dejected but intrigued. My fears had finally found their way into the one place I never wanted to see them, which is my writing. Now, I am determined to clean them out.
Your art will always tell you the truth about yourself. In fact, it is you at your most honest. Your strengths will be in their full glory, and so will your hangups and biases. If the hangups are deep and dark enough, they may threaten your entire work. Do not let this happen.
I chose this friend to be my main beta reader because she had a similar background to mine (psychology and writing), but also knew me in a way I didn’t know myself. She had known me, more or less, for ten years. She knew my demons better than I did, and could therefore catch them if they reared their ugly heads in my novel, which they did.
Writers need that. You need someone willing to hold the mirror up to your face and tell you about you…not because they want to hurt you or reject your work, but because they know what you can really accomplish and they want to see it.
Get someone like that in your corner, ASAP.