On Thursday, my writing buddy and I (let’s call her AH) shared lunch and some of our frustrations about not being as productive as we could be (no ‘should’ here). I’d simmered some onion soup (chicken broth, white and red onions caramelized in 1 tbsp. butter, 4 garlic cloves, seasonings) and a stir fry (4 chicken breasts and chicken thighs cut into large chunks and marinated in 1 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. soy sauce, 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger, 3 crushed garlic cloves then baked briefly in the oven so I didn’t have to add more oil. To the chicken I added 1 cup each of quartered mushrooms, sliced red and yellow peppers, steamed broccoli and sliced snow peas. It tasted boring so I added 1/2 cup of coconut milk and a tsp. of chopped lemongrass, more fresh pepper and ginger. Served 3 generously with enough left over for another meal and a packed lunch for work. Side dish was over roasted root vegetables – squash, turnips, carrots. Tasty and filling.)
We’ve decided to become beta readers for each other’s work. Critical readers. We’ve both written material for other people during the decades of our working careers, so we’re accustomed to having someone else take a red pencil to our carefully prepared prose. We’ve agreed there will be no ‘what sticks with me’ comments. What we need is, ‘this…works because…’, this …doesn’t work because…’, ‘the story sags’, ‘this character is too over the top/boring/inconsistent’… Tough love, literary style, from someone I trust. Hub knows we’re doing this. He keeps rolling his eyes and asking when I’m going to publish my non-fiction book, my first novel, my short stories. Soon? No, soon is this year. I’m not ready to tell anyone else about it yet, though. AH and I have done workshops and taken writing classes for years. Now it’s time to stop prevaricating and get down to cranking out publishable material.
I was so stoked that afternoon, I hit my laptop and went to work on some new material instead of tinkering with the same damned 30 pages of my third draft. AH and I agreed that we’re pursuers of perfection, which means that we don’t put ourselves out there as we should. A bit of insecurity, worrying about what ‘they’ might think. WTF? Starting today, I’m peeling the tough rind off the kohlrabi of my writing to expose the appealing inner core that’s publishable and marketable. Yes, I am committed to getting the damned stuff off my hard drive and into print. In the next six months. There, I’ve done it. Said what my goal is…in public. Yikes.
Some of the published writing that’s out there now is …um…not high quality. We know that we can do better. And we will. Every two weeks, we’ll send our work off to each other and hunker down working on the next installment until the critique is returned. In some ways, it will be like dating. You get all excited about the prospects. Start daydreaming about what might come next. Yeah, that was nice. Let’s do it again. Then you find out that he plays with his nose or has pictures posted on his FB page of himself in his cute VW Beetle, sitting beside his mother and his cat.But knowing AH, I doubt there will be anything besides honest feedback, lots of laughs and more healthy meals.