Finding Balance in a Story

Yesterday, feeling a bit overwhelmed by the changes (unknown) still needed on one picture book, I went back to another that I knew was “close.” (Thankfully, I was right!). There were a couple of consistent comments from my critique group that I had agreed with completely, but that I still needed to take a look at and muse on solutions for. (Thankfully, again, those came relatively easily!) And then I started doing a read-through, since I hadn’t seen the actual words for a while.

And…bing! Something jarred me. For lack of a better description, the story is kind of a two-sided one, one that moves (hopefully in a great story way) from conflict to cooperation. And as I read through, prompted by a great piece of feedback from one critiquer), I realized that–for one important piece of the story–things felt one-sided. Off balance.

That description actually makes it sound like I reached a really clear understanding, all at once. Not true. What I had was more of a feeling–a pinch, a pause, a little alarm bell ringing in my head. I’m not sure yet what I’ll do about the problem; I’m not even sure that making things symmetrical is the right fix. But that bell…I love it. That sense that something is off, that recognition that the off part is right there, and that knowledge that this is where I need to work next. This is what makes revision so awesome (and, yes, so challenging). This is what reminds me that, “success” or not, I’m in the right place doing the right thing. Because I get it. I can see it. And with enough courage and persistence, I’ll probably be able to make it better.

Here’s to happy little bells in our brains.

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