We had our mid-project review yesterday. After two weeks of worrying about what the panel would make of our rewrites, the moment of truth arrived. It was much less horrible than I thought it was going to be, which is usually the case with me anyway.
Much like the defense at the beginning of the program, the esteemed panel asked questions about the choices we made our manuscripts. I was relieved that they weren’t overall character or story questions, but more specific questions about how to nuance the relationships on the page and clarify characters’ motivations. It felt that they understood the decisions I made during the rewrite process, and even though I felt like I was creating a big jumbled mess, I actually improved the work exponentially.
This is not to say that when four sets of hard, inquiring eyes were fixed on me, demanding an answer to this or that, I didn’t become overwhelmed with anxiety. I did. The worst aspect of this panic is that although I may have had the answer in my head, my access to this answer, as well as anything other than monosyllabic words was blocked, and the words that stumbled out of my mouth sound like I am talking into a tin can. This is precisely why a discussion of a writer’s work is so terrifying: we like writing much more than talking. To the panel’s credit, they did try to follow what I was saying, their eyes narrowed and heads moving in slow circles like they were watching a fly land on my forehead. I am pretty sure I sounded sub-mental.
When the review ended, I felt positive and relieved. For about five minutes. Then, I realized I have to read what they suggested, incorporate the things that are missing from my manuscript, finish the manuscript, survive another review, and do all of this in the next six weeks. Plus, my horror of horrors is upon me – I have to write a query letter and come up with ten questions about publishing for my advisor meeting this week with the fabulous and smart Samantha Dunn. Only ten? Ugh. But, I did enjoy my five minutes of relief and positivity for what it was, before returning to my normal, idling state of neuroses.
All in all, I have been cleared to carry on, keep writing, and begin preparing for the FINAL REVIEW (there’s lots of echo and reverb when I hear these words in my head). But as Gloria Gaynor once sang so eloquently, I will survive.