In slightly more than a week, I’m going to send my manuscript to some readers. Spooky. Just in time for Halloween. All my usual anxieties are flaring up, exacerbated by the lovely Best American Essays.
I loved Wild, and was excited to see what Cheryl Strayed would pick as the best things that she read all year. Of course the secret hope is that one day my work will be among them. Well, not so secret after all.
Comparing my work with the essays in the book, I saw a few standard flaws that I expected, criticism I had heard before. Didn’t go into enough depth, more scene, etc. But the unexpected was privileged. Many of the essays are about living on the edge, not just “can’t go out until payday” edge, but the “have no place to sleep indoors” edge. It makes my problems seem small indeed.
I look at my work and I am tired. I’ve cut some 30,000 words. I know I need to add that much back in, but I don’t know where, and I don’t know how. I’m trying to figure how to get to my manuscript with fresh eyes AGAIN. How do I keep the reader’s attention?
What books make you insecure?