Tag Archives: revision hell

I Can

I am a big believer in speaking words to power. I tell my students all the time “don’t release that negativity to the universe.” But sometimes I live in the do as I say not as I do universe.

For the last few weeks that’s where I’ve lived with my writing.

I read a book, love it, sigh and say, “Nope, can’t do it. I can’t compete with this.”

I stare at my computer screen and see the blinking cursor and it fills me with fear and dread and emptiness.

I’ve given myself permission to write crap, and when I look at my words, that’s what I see.

That negativity isn’t real. I know it’s not real, and still it shuts me down. SOME of the words are crap. Total crap. But at its base, the story I’m working on is good. I KNOW this and still I let my fear of inadequacy get in the way.

The last couple weeks I haven’t had words to share with Night Writers, the group I go to weekly at my local library. I help critique others, but that makes me feel like a fraud of a writer because I haven’t written anything other than a bajillion social media posts and a handful of blog entries.

Instead I’ve looked at my words, readied my writing space and after thirty minutes of thinking “I can’t!” I turn on a recorded Grey’s or This is Us or open my kindle app to read another Jill Shalvis or Kristen Ashley or Nora or SEP (…the list of authors I love is LONG!) book and wonder how can those writers be so good?!?!

Last night, though, after my writing group met, I opened my notebook and iPad, gathered my editor’s notes (Penni, you are a Godsend!) and told myself to get over it. The only way to get through the I CAN’T WRITE moments is to sit down and do the work.

I almost didn’t write this today because sometimes I write these “I can do this” posts, and my brain taunts me.

But you know what? My brain taunts me anyway, so here it is. I can do this. I want to do this. I LIKE the end product when it’s all said and done, but getting to a real The End is not easy. It takes real work. There’s no pretend. If I want to be successful as an author, I’ve got to write and tame that negativity beast. Tame her because she’s not going anywhere. She’s there in my brain ready to pounce when I least expect it. She’s part of the process.

I can do this. I can.

Stop Yer Whining….

Okay, I KNEW this revision was going to be tough. I’d done a quick pass once. Sent the work to some friends (even though I know better than to do that in the throes of I finished a book! adrenaline.

My friends who read the work were sweet. They said things like “I really like Sam and Patty but…” and “It seems like you could use a little more something….” and “you know, I can’t really see anything in the story. It needs some fleshing out maybe.” and…. “Your end conflict…completely unbelievable.”

So I put Sam and Patty’s story aside to look at later. And I drafted another book. And I came back to Sam and Patty and I loved the story still. I mean so what that it’s just a bunch of dialogue with some paint swatches thrown in for color every once in a while. I agreed totally with the end conflict cliche I’d written, so I fixed that. But something wasn’t right.

So I put Sam and Patty’s story aside to look at later. And I drafted another book. And I came back to Sam and Patty and OH DEAR GOD. I’ve written some awesome dialogue. For paper dolls. This poor story couldn’t be more flat. It isn’t a real story at all!!! It’s a detailed outline. A beginning. But nowhere near done.

And so the revision work…the real revision work not editing work…starts.

That’s my self-publishing word of warning. It’s easy to hit publish on a book that’s not ready. Find people you trust to give you feedback on whether the story is ready. And read a ton. I know the books I’ve read the last three months helped me see the gaping holes in this story. I mean the whole time I was reading and making notes tonight I was thinking What Would Jill Shalvis Do? AND Where is the Karen Templeton Emotion? And write a ton. Those other two drafts I’ve written are drafts…I know that. The second one is better than this one, but it’s still a draft. The third one is waaaayyyyy better than this one and the next, but it’s still a draft.

I’ve got a lot of work to do.

Friends who so kindly let me know this book wasn’t ready without totally killing my writer soul…thank you, thank you, thank you!!!!