I’ve been known to bungle things from time to time.
And the one thing I’ve noticed, when I make a mistake, is that I can be pretty hard on myself. It’s an expectation thing, I realize, and it also has a lot to do with perfection. You know, wanting to do your best — but without booboos.
That’s hard to do. In fact, it’s damned near impossible.
There’s this little voice inside all of our heads that constantly compares ourselves to others. Something buried down, very deep, that most of us don’t listen to. And that little voice can be our worst enemy. It tells us that our house isn’t as nice as the neighbor’s. That we don’t earn enough money as the guy sitting next to us in the office. That we should have done things differently, even though you can’t because whatever it is that you did is done, past tense.
Or that the book you’re writing isn’t as good as some other author’s book that’s selling boatloads of copies.
Chalk that one up to writer insecurity and a much-hated Internal Editor.
See, I’m one of those writers who writes and rewrites, then writes and rewrites again, sharpening each scene as I go along until I’m satisfied that what I’ve written is ‘good enough’. Of course, ‘good enough’ is a subjective thing and it can drive you crazy. But I’m not a pantster (writing whatever comes to my head and finishing the book, then going back and revising) and I’m not a plotter (outlining each scene and chapter and then writing the story based on the outline). My brain just isn’t wired that way.
So what happens? Sometimes (okay, many times) I get caught up in the little details of a scene to the point of compulsion. And then I have trouble letting go and moving on. I find what I think are mistakes, fix them, revise more, go back and reread, and then find more mistakes, and revise again. I did this a lot with In This Life, which is due out on October 8 from Crimson Romance. It’s a story that took, hmm, about 6 or 7 years to complete. Yes. Six or seven years. It went through many revisions, rewrites and an agent before I found my current publisher, as well as a lot of mistakes. I’d written before In This Life, and I wrote a lot after, but that book turned out to be my learning curve. The story that tested me and tried me, made me scream and made me cry, and that taught me a very important lesson: deciding when I, as a writer, have to say enough is enough.
I’m proud of the story. It went through a lot of blood, sweat and tears that 99% of readers will never know about, but it also went through a lot of mistakes, too. I think those mistakes were important for me to make. I learned a lot about my characters, David and Lottie. I learned a lot about how to tell Story. And I learned how to differentiate between the important mistakes and the mistakes I could let go of.
That’s pretty much what any of us can do in life, right?
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I hear you, Terri, and suffer the same difficulty in letting go. My writing never seems good enough.
I guess there could never be an end to revising, so like you, I had to stop, take my fingers off the keys and let my book go. When I did the final edits, I was cringing sometimes at things I wanted to change, but it was too late, and that was probably a good thing.
I read a quote by an author, but can’t remember who. It was simply: I’m not a writer. I’m a rewriter. Uh huh, get that. 🙂
Oh yes I can see that. Isn’t there another quote that say something like: books are never done, they’re just let go.
No. That’s not right. But it’s true. Writers never think their final product is ever good enough.
I got it:
A story is never finished; only abandoned.
You forgot to mention that once the story was written, the characters weren’t satisfied and demanded that their story continue to be told. As a result, you were compelled to launch immediately into book two.
This is true. I’m in love with these characters. I hope I can continue doing them justice. They’ve got a lot of story to tell.