Monday, May 31, 2010

Soul crushing humility, here I come!

Well, maybe just ego crushing?

I've finally finished reading and commenting for my first two beta readers, and so now I can open their comments and read without worrying that I'll get carried away and ignore their manuscripts or be unnecessarily harsh to them as payback! I'm ready to have my nearly-perfect-in-my-mind-manuscript ripped up. I can't wait.

Here's the thing about writing- You're always improving. Every word you write (type?) teaches you something more about how to do it. So I should be better than I was even a month ago.

I think the biggest thing I have learned about writing is that the real beauty comes out in rewriting. Sure, I get a rush when I'm pouring out that rough draft, but to polish something and for the words to cut right through to the heart of the conflict, to open that space where you just become the character- that takes revision. I love when I read back over something and it's what I intended it to be, or occassionally even better.

I try to look at every error as an opportunity for growth. So far, most of the people I've traded crits with have been very gracious and helpful. Even the crits that have been less tactful or downright unpalatable have taught me something important: humility.

Humility isn't thinking, "I'm a terrible writer and I'll never get published and why am I torturing myself with this?" Humility is acknowledging where your strength comes from. I'll have a good story, but not because I have mad skillz or magic in my fingers. It will be good (all the way through, too!) because my strength comes from revision and from a willingness to learn. A hunger, not a grudging one either.

Sometimes you have to accept that others do not 'get' your story. Writing fantasy, I run into this from time to time. But even the critiques from the non-fantasy readers gave me some invaluable insight into my story and where it needed to go. (Though I still pity people who don't read fantasy. I once suggested Ender's Game to a book club that had been reading 'The Life of Pi' and 'the Virginian' and 'Count of Monte Cristo'. Nothing wrong with those books, and the ladies did rather well with Ender's Game!)

A casual reader once commented that he was glad that he hadn't paid to read an early draft of a chapter. I'm not saying it didn't hurt, but I considered the source (he never reads novels, so he's never willing to pay to read it!) and got back to work. And now reading that early chapter, I can see what he meant. I still wish he'd worded their crit a little more kindly, but oh well.

How do you feel about getting crits back?


  1. hang in there! you've got the best attitude, and that's the most important part! you'll go very far, love! ;D

  2. I like feedback, but get nervous about it too. But my desire to make my writing better wins out and I move forward. I like what you said about the beauty being in the rewriting. You're right:) Good post. Have a great week!

  3. Good luck diving into the feedback! It might sting at first, but you're pretty tough. I'm sure you can take it:)

  4. Hi Caroline- I'm excited! Thanks for stopping by.

    Tahereh-I hope that a good attitude will help it be more fun at least.

    Karen- I don't get anywhere as nervous as I did, but it's still a little scary. Thanks!

  5. I get so nervous, but I appreciate the feedback. It helps.

  6. Hey Krista- I'm a lot tougher after joining an online writer's workshop. I love it when someone helps me to an 'Ah-ha' moment.

    Hey Myrna- *smiles* yep. Thanks!

  7. I agree with your statement: "think the biggest thing I have learned about writing is that the real beauty comes out in rewriting."

    In addition to beauty, rewriting also brings out enhanced integration, nuance and detail and theme. I love rewrite.

  8. Hi Mohamed M- thanks for stopping in! I wish rewriting just didn't take so very very long!

    good luck to you!