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Compromised

When one thinks of the word "compromise" in terms of art, it's usually as a negative. "My vision was compromised," you might hear an artist say. Hell, I've said it a time or two when something important was removed from a piece I'd worked on without my knowledge.

And in that sense of the word it's a bad thing.

In talking to some people, though, it's clear to me that there seems to be an idea floating out there that editors and beta readers exist to force compromise on your vision, and I'm not sure that's the case. In fact, I'm pretty confident it's not.

When you finish your draft of a story, it's just that: a draft. It's not living up to its potential because it's just been vomited from your mind. Whether you're a swooper or a basher, your work is still going to need some editing. It's going to need more massaging and finesse. The problem is that you're too close to it. You might be able to revise it into better shape to a point, but you're in the forest touching the bark on the individual trees, bumbling your way from one end to the other. Beta readers and editors get to look at the whole thing from a 30,000 foot view without the baggage of having been on the terrain before. Granted, some of them might misread the map a little bit, or fudge the symbols on the legend, but their goal is to point at things on the map and show you a better route.

It's also important to remember that you and those early readers and editors have the same goal: to make your manuscript better.

They aren't giving you notes to make your book worse. They aren't giving you notes because they want you to fail. They exist to help you tell the best story you can. You might not always agree with them, but they'll give you a different perspective with which to think about your story.

They are not your enemy.

Quite the opposite, really. You're all on the same team. And your book (or short story, or screenplay, or whatever) is going to be better for taking in their feedback. Changing something at the suggestion of a reader isn't a compromise in your artistic vision, it's someone pointing out a weakness in your defense and you shoring it up before it makes contact with the reader.

Think about it that way and you'll never take what seems to be negative feedback personally again.

And I'll try to bear that in mind for myself the next time a writer I respect gives me notes about what in my manuscript frustrated them.

As for my own, current writing, I've been toiling away on projects like you wouldn't believe.  I'm still taking in final batches of notes from The Aeronaut and Escape Vector, I'm working as though there were a whip at my back on my fantasy novel, and there are other things I'm doing. I turned in some more magazine work, did an interview I can't wait for you to check out, and added a thousand words to a proposal for a super-secret book project an agent added me for. To top it all off, I've been working on another super-secret project that I'm not sure if I'm allowed to even acknowledge yet, but as soon as I find out, I'll let you know.

As for other pieces that have come out, my latest Cinema Behind Star Wars column came out. This one examined the connections between Star Wars and Blade Runner

That's it for this week.  As far as my work outside of all this: I'm keeping busy for Big Shiny Robot! and Full of Sith. 

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