Novel Reviews Imminent

Though the timing and structure have not yet been determined, I have decided that I will be submitting the current draft of Flowers for Dionysus to the small novel critique group of which I am a part.

“Submitting” is probably overstating it. It’s a group of three other writers, whom I trust, all of whom I met during meetings of the Frederick Writers Salon. They asked if I wanted to go next, and I said that I would.

Now several people have read previous drafts of the novel in their own time, and several more will be reading the current fifth draft. Those readers are just as valuable to me, but they will be reading mostly at their own pace. (Provided they can be done by the time I start the next draft.) The review group I mentioned will meet regularly, having read a specific section of the novel during the interim. So it will be more structured and specific.

Usually one person reads it, and the email their thoughts, and answer a few questions I have. This will be a discussion of the novel, in person, at a table. Am I nervous? I wouldn’t use that word. These people have critiqued my shorts stories several times before, so I am used to how to operate. Yes, there is more invested in this novel than in the short stories, but I’m aware that as always I can receive and process the advice I find useful, and then quietly set aside anything that I feel won’t be of use. Just as the author who’s novel we are currently reviewing will do with advice I offer.

Perhaps advice isn’t even the correct term. I can’t speak to any other group dynamic of course, but with this one, it tends to be responses more than advice, unless specific advice is asked for. Sometimes we say, “I’d understand this better if it were earlier in the chapter,” or something like that. But rarely does anybody say, “You should change the order of this chapter.”

Response. Impressions. Effect on someone. That’s what a lot of this is about, but from the perspective of people who spend time crafting their own stories. Writers are of course not better people than those who do not write. They will simply offer a perspective that those who do not write probably cannot offer. I blog about it here because it will be the first time that the novel has received the treatment from these people.

I imagine it will be somewhat like a runner going for a run. They want to and don’t want to. Long term, they want to get out there and run. Short term, they are tired today, or are still stiff from the last run. Yet once they get out there, all things being equal, and things are moving, they end up glad they got on with it. I feel my experience in the group with the novel is similar.

I’ll keep you updated.

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