Is art—in particular, writing—meant to be representative or aspirational?
On Twitter, where I admittedly spend more time than is probably recommended, the issue of representative vs. aspirational writing comes up often, if not necessarily using these exact terms.
Last year, while having parts of my WIP critiqued by a CP, I received an unexpected bit of feedback.
It had to do with the physical description of a certain character. Specifically, the fact that, in her mind, I hadn’t provided a physical description at all.
Apparently, I’m both a better and worse writer than I always thought.
It’s been pretty much a full year since I started my critique group, and the time I’ve spend working with my CPs has been full of revelations about myself as a writer.
I’ve written before on the topic of writers and validation.
That previous post was related to which form of publishing one might chose to pursue (self-publishing vs. traditional), and what that choice may or may not say about one’s need for acknowledgement by writing industry professionals, which in turn may or may not relate to the strength of one’s self esteem.
I always believed that I was a good writer.
This is a fairly common trait among writers and not necessarily a bad thing. No one would spend the necessary months or years to write a novel if they didn’t on some level believe themselves good at it, or at least capable of getting better.
Writing is not a team sport, except for when it eventually becomes one.
Overall, I consider writing the most solitary of the arts. Not only does writing a novel involve spending months, if not longer, alone inside one’s head trying to reproduce the drama unfolding therein, the interim stages of an unfinished novel hold next to no interest.
Plotter. Pantser. Zero drafter. I don’t even know what to call myself anymore.
It’s all just labels anyway. I’ve previously written about how, in their strictest sense, there’s almost no difference between them anyway.
As long as you end up with usable words on the page, it doesn’t really matter the method you employed to get them there.
I’ve played this game before.
Even though I had a thorough outline, I pantsed my way through a significant portion of my WIP’s first draft.
Now that I am some five drafts deep into revision, I find myself pinch-hitting for Team Pantser once again.
TV sitcom Home Improvement characters Al (left) and Tim (right)
In a previous post, I shared thoughts I’ve had about my novel being critiqued by my critique group.
One post is nowhere near enough words to cover my insights on this process, which is still in progress.
One particular insight has taken me all the way back to the 1990s.
Fourth (left) and partial sixth (right) drafts of my WIP
It’s the worst feeling in the world.
But of course that’s not the end at all. Indeed, the realization of how wretched having your work critiqued can be is only just the beginning of a new stage of your writing journey.