I’m a firm believer in that old Hemingway quote: There is nothing to writing. All you do is sit at a typewriter and bleed. When I sit down to write a book, that’s exactly what I do. Figuratively, of course, although occasionally literally, too (no one in my house will forget the Great Sticky-Tape Slicing of 2004).
And with this bleeding comes a strong attachment to the words. I’ve recently become a plotter, and love planning what will happen in my novels. Part of that means taking some huge emotional risks, and really opening a part of my soul in the process.
Perhaps that’s why, in my upcoming novel (How To Save A Life) I had a slight problem when the scene I loved the most in the manuscript was not received so well by some betas. It was a fairly controversial scene and for me, it was a great snapshot of what the novel was about — it really took the love, the hurt, the manipulation and the emotional blackmail to a whole new level, and gave little hints at what had been in my lead character’s life, as well as foreshadowing what was to come.
Overall, seven betas liked the scene — and two did not. While that might sound like a very straightforward equation (quick, pick the seven!) for me, it wasn’t that simple. Because I loved the scene so much, I worried I was blinded to the reality. Still, I couldn’t just let the scene go. I sweated over that scene. I cried over it. I bled that scene. I opened my heart and let it all pump out.
In the end, I altered the scene, but didn’t delete. Part of being a good writer is learning to accept criticism, and knowing when to stick to your guns. I think I am capable of both these things, and that the manuscript is 100 times better for the minor change (or at least, I’m finally sleeping a full eight hours, instead of waking at 2am and worrying over WHAT SHOULD I DO?).
I’ve never been so torn up about a scene before, and I can only presume it’s because I was so emotionally invested.
What I want to know is what words have YOU bled for? Whether it’s something you’ve written or something powerful you’ve read. Figuratively, of course …
Would love to know!