Moving On

As writers, we all have our own version of SKINNY sitting on our shoulder, that inner voice which speaks your worst fears about your writing.  You know the one- it sounds suspiciously like yourself and tells you can't string together a cohesive thought or interesting sentence, let alone a 300 page book with an actual plot and character arcs. 

Hack. If this boy smiles one more time in this scene, his lips are going to fall off.

For me, that voice is always strongest somewhere between 10,000 and 50,000 words.  It pops up just as the first blush of young love with a new project is dying and I realize I've written myself into a corner from which there is seemingly no escape.

Haven't you used this line before? Wait, didn't I see it on the top ten list of overused lines in manuscripts posted on Twitter?  It was number three.  I think you've used it at least once in every book you've ever written. 
The problem is that once that voice pops up, it never really seems to go away.  I may push it back and press through, completing a draft, a rewrite, a revision, and edits, but that voice is always lurking, waiting for something, anything, to prove that it's right.

In my real life, I consider myself to be someone who is pretty resilient.  A pragmatist and a survivor who views the world with logic and common sense.  As a writer- not so much.  It's human nature to crave validation, and as a writer for publication, I purposely share my heart with the world.  Logically, I know that not every reader is going to love the same things I do. Logically, I know that some readers may respond negatively to certain elements in my work.  But I've learned that logic has nothing over base emotion when it comes to receiving a negative review.

That first book was a fluke, Talia.  Utter trash that should never have gotten published.  There are so many worthy writers out there waiting for a break.  You should just step aside already.

I try to remind myself that there are perfectly lovely people in the world who don't like dogs or Pinkberry (You're comparing your books to Pinkberry? Please.).  Of course there will be people who don't love my work.  As Justine Larbalestier says:  "You publish books, you get bad reviews. If you don’t want bad reviews don’t write books."  This is so, so true. 

But knowing that not everyone is going to love my book doesn't always work, because when I see a negative review, my SKINNY voice is right there again, loudly proclaiming that the negative reaction is the right one.  All of my deepest fears (that it's not good enough and never will be) are validated by negative reactions, and that has so much more resonance than a positive review.  One negative review can trump ten positive ones.  That's because the voice on the other shoulder, the sweet, angelic voice who loves a character or a line or a chapter or even (gasp) the book, that voice is much more easily cowed and prone to self doubt.

So I'm learning to let go.  To write a book that I love and trust that I've done all I can.  To set it loose in the world and then step back, or better yet, move forward- to write the next one. 

I know I'll never write a perfect book, and I don't want to, because what then?  I can only imagine how the SKINNY voice would react to that.

You'll never do that again.  What makes you think you can even try?  No one wants to read anything but that one perfect book and anything else you write will just feel like a cheap imitation.  Just call it GREASE 2 and get it over with.
I want to write a book that challenges me.  A book that ignites feelings and expresses ideas I didn't know I had.  I want to fall in love with my characters and then let them go, so I can start the entire process over again.  I don't want to write a book for everyone.  I want to write a book for me.  And hopefully, I'll find some like-minded readers along the way to share it with.

And as for that SKINNY voice on my shoulder?  She usually quiets down if I feed her enough chocolate.


Love that last paragraph, Talia. Now to work I go!

Post a Comment

Grid_spot theme adapted by Lia Keyes. Powered by Blogger.


discover what the Muses get up to when they're not Musing

an ever-growing resource for writers

Popular Musings

Your Responses

Fellow Musers