This morning, after re-reading a lost chapter from my book’s rough draft, I cringed. I had turned it in to my writers group last night and this morning had that “morning after guilt.” I had haphazardly chosen this sample to pass out and couldn’t believe how well… bad it was for lack of a better term. True to my procrastination defect of character, I waited until 1 hour before the meeting, printed the chapter from an old rough draft and barely re-read it before printing ten copies. This morning, when I sat down to my emails, there it was on my monitor. This simple, repetitive sample of work that displayed every bad habit I have. What must my writers think of my abilities (or lack thereof)? I was mortified.
You see, I’d written it four years ago (tisk tisk…I should’ve turned in a new article) and although my style is admittedly straightforward, I kept repeating the same words over and over. It’s something I can be guilty of. Although I’d like to think I’ve grown as a writer since the first rough draft of my book, who knows the true measure. Please tell me I have. It’s funny because all of this self doubt is coming one week after my first national review. I was chosen as one of thirty something self-published books to be reviewed by Publishers Weekly. And it was a great review! So what is my problem?? http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-1-4520-6851-0
Why am I beating myself up for something that I wrote four years ago that wasn’t so fantastic?
Is it this masochistic, perfectionistic nature that is eating me up today? How can I shake this negative inner critic? (I wish I could put it on a one-way plane ride to Tahiti. Or, better yet, the North Pole.) Still, I have to learn to live with this inner critic and tell it to take a hike when it’s driving me nuts. Like today.
After last night’s writers meeting, and upon this morning’s reflection, one thing is abundantly clear: we need our editors. Of course by that I mean someone other than ourselves. I can edit the heck out of an article eight times, but someone else will give me the perspective and ability to make it a better one. We need to be able to, and open to, accepting criticism. It makes us better writers when we do. Every article I write, every chapter and even the occasional long, important email gets run past my editor. (Unfortunately for you, not this blog! haha)
As I write this to you, Simon’s (we have a “Simon Cowell” named Bob in our writing group) advice is echoing in my mind: “get rid of every form of the verb ‘to be’ in your story.” I crutch on the easy words and a lot of learning, practicing and catching up to do. Some people have been writing, professionally or otherwise, all their lives. Not me. My past is filled with hiatuses here and there. A long time poetry and journal writer, I am consistently inconsistent. The story writing, book writing and even article writing are new to me. So I realize I’m a little behind here…
Perhaps I’m ahead of the curve in one respect. Being so new to this industry makes me extremely open to taking criticism. I absolutely take my editors’ suggestions. And, I believe that’s what makes a good writer. Or, shall I say I believe that’s what makes us better writers. You can argue with me all you want. Sure, we’ve all been told by someone we have raw talent. Everyone has their story of teachers, friends, reviews, etc. But if you think you never need editing or feedback, I’m here to say: your writing will suffer for it.
To goal is, and always will be, to keep growing. When we listen to our editors, we make better writers. It’s that simple.
I for one, would be lost without them.