Sunday, January 17, 2010

Still Editing

That is all.

Okay, that's not entirely true. I am a mess of self-doubt. I am re-reading this story, this novel, this manuscript and I'm thinking it is utter crap. I'm prepared to chuck it in the bin and walk away, forgetting that I ever entertained the idea that I could write a story.

I'm sick of the story, fed up with the characters and unsure of the narration. Should it be first person? Is there really a story there? Is there too much in the beginning and not enough in the second part? Wrap things up or leave them hanging? Do I give enough description? Is the writing too simple, not literary enough? What if I've just wasted all this time telling the wrong story, using these characters the wrong way?

I put the pages down and do something else. Play cards with Sophia, watch British murder mysteries with MathMan and Chloe. Goof around with Nathan. Pet a cat and stare out the window.

I think about the novels I'm reading lately. What is it that I like? What don't I like? How do their characters develop enough so that the reader cares what happens to them? And don't even get me started about genre. I haven't a clue where this story will fit.

Considering all that's wrong with the world (and, by the way, I'm heartened to see the good that disasters like Haiti bring out in people), all of this is incredibly petty, meaningless stuff. But it's my stuff and hopefully it will unlock a different kind of future for me and my family and so I press on even when all I'd rather do is read a book without analyzing it or catch another old film on TMC.

I'm about 90 pages from done with my read-through edits, so it's back to it. There is likely a bit more writing to do.

Be well and be good to each other and yourselves....



  1. Lisa, I'm sure it is way better than you're giving yourself credit for!

  2. Hey Philip, shut-up already, eat some pudding and know that it is good.

  3. Stick with it, gurl! You know that we're our own worst critics.

  4. It is hard not to be critical of our own creativity. Have you had someone in the publishing business read your novel for an honest opinion? When you are published for the 40th time you will look back at these insecurities and laugh.

  5. I kinda agree with Saoirse. After you are done with the edit, maybe you need an outside opinion, not necessarily someone in publishing, just someone that can look at it objectively.

  6. Creativity, particularly in regard to lengthy fiction, is a very tricksy business. We know what we enjoy reading but when it comes time to examine something we've written ourselves then everything appears mutable. It's very likely that up until now very few have read your manuscript other than you. After all, it's a lot to ask of people. Knowing you and having enjoyed reading your blog posts for several years my guess would be that Mathman is correct. The problem you face is that he's also too close to have a strictly objective opinion. I think Saiorse is correct about the time having come to let others read it in its entirety or in part but rather than submitting it to any publishers you may be more amenable to checking out a writers forum. I know the very idea of releasing a book you've worked on so long has to be very daunting especially if you're vacillating about key elements. Perhaps your insecurity now is only a signal that it's time for some impartial appraisals. Step back, take a deep breath and trust yourself.

  7. I'm with Mauigirl. Walk away for a bit, then come back.

  8. Step away from the manuscript---just for a bit.
    then have another looksee after cleansing your palate on something totally different.

    I'm sure it's dang good and can't wait to read it.

  9. You sound a lot like me. Every time I think I've finally got it right, I do one final edit and decide to rewrite the whole thing another way, then that requires more editing and so it goes. Will I ever finish? God I hope so. I know just how you feel. Don't give up. If I can keep writing on the same story with the same characters for 30 years and still hope I'll finish and publish so can you.

  10. This is exactly why my blog posts are a source of such fear. I do not and cannot manage to offer anything I have written for publication. I do the required "set it aside" stuff before reading, editing, and such, and always find it to be crap, pure and simple. Derivative. Unoriginal. Junk.

    How I have managed to blog so much without losing my ind is quite beyond my capacity. I understand, Lisa, but I believe in you. You are far too good a writer, far too honest not to have written something both powerful and singular.

  11. So, Lisa, I have done read throughs on manuscripts before if you want to send it to me. Just a thought.

  12. Good luck. And I'm sure every writer feels the same way when they are getting near the end. If you didn't have to deal with self-doubt, the end result wouldn't probably be worth a damn.

  13. Um. The advice I try to follow with my own art is that you must "show up at the page." The work is yours, and you must try your best, but the quality is your muse's job. The work is this thing that needs to be born, and you must give birth. Much of what makes it what it is is NOT your job. It came to you.

    So stick with it. Get it into the hands of some readers who can tell you what they think. Don't judge it while it still isn't born yet.

    By the way - these feelings you write about here are SO familiar, and particularly at this point in a project. The initial glamour is gone. The honeymoon is over. It ain't a new relationship you have here any more. And this is when you are nearing the possibility of success or failure (both scary). This is when the going is hardest.

  14. Write for yourself. If it's good enough, and I trust it will be, editors will answer aall those other questions.

  15. I have a friend, a poet, who makes her living teaching writing workshops. She's worked with everyone from those who have something technical to present and don't know how to do it, to budding novelists such as you. Is there a writer's group or workshop you could join?

  16. Definitely run your ms through a writer's workshop or something similar. When you're done with your edits, you're going to need that second set of eyeballs to catch things you'll miss. Writer's workshops are a great way to clear up any concerns you have, like POV, for instance. They'll also let you know if you're a diamond in the rough or a turd pile.

    Writer's workshops come in a variety of flavors. One doesn't have to go away to one of those weekend retreats in a secluded location (though that would be nice). Writer's workshops can be found online or local coffee shop. You can find one to fit any budget.

    Oh, and don't submit directly to a publisher. They'll screw you blind. Unless you're a lawyer or otherwise adept at reading contracts and are familiar with all of the publishing rights, get an agent. Seriously, an agent will make sure you don't sign all of your rights away. Sure they want a cut, but writers should be focused on writing, not worrying about legal documents.

  17. Been there done that with my own book. I loved the editing process but then was advised to take a few months off before a final read through. So I did.


  18. lisa, don't give up, just find someone to give you an objective are simply tired of looking at your own work and feeling insecure because no one else has told you it's good but you are a good writer and I KNOW it's good...keep going, finish and then take the next have dedicated all this time and effort to it, it is like giving birth and in reality, you don't have a is already done, you just have to take the steps to finish it... btw, i have been missing you lately♥

  19. Write on kiddo..... write on.
    Oh! Remember this--
    JK Rowling (of the Harry Potter book fame)
    The book was submitted to twelve publishing houses, all of which rejected the manuscript.

    A year later she was finally given the green light (and a £1500 advance) by editor Barry Cunningham from Bloomsbury, a small British publishing house in London, England.
    The decision to publish Rowling's book apparently owes much to Alice Newton, the eight-year-old daughter of Bloomsbury’s chairman, who was given the first chapter to review by her father and immediately demanded the next. Although Bloomsbury agreed to publish the book, Cunningham says that he advised Rowling to get a day job, since she had little chance of making money in children’s books. Soon after, in 1997, Rowling received an £8000 grant from the Scottish Arts Council to enable her to continue writing.
    The following spring, an auction was held in the United States for the rights to publish the novel, and was won by Scholastic Inc., for $105,000. Rowling has said she “nearly died” when she heard the news.

    Rowling is perhaps equally famous for her "rags to riches" life story, in which she progressed from living on welfare to multi-millionaire status within five years. $798 million, Rowling gives generously to charities of her choice.

    So the lady was turned down 12 times before she was published.

    The Beatles were told guitar bands were on their way out & turned down as well.

    Just remember that stuff, OK?

  20. You'd better let me take a look at it, Lisa, before you fuck up and do something rash. Send it to me in a Word doc attachment and I promise I'll look at it closely and give you an exhaustive analysis.

  21. Good luck with this.
    It's a brave thing to do.
    (And by the way, you haven't written a boring thing yet.)

  22. Lisa, keep the faith! You're a great writer--just remember that all writers go through this self-doubt...just ask Iwanski! :)

    Also, check out the book "The Artist's Way," if you haven't already--it's good for us artist-types with self-doubt. :)

  23. Just put more sex, gore, and erotica in it, so it'll keep your attention. ;)

    Seriously, do that and the other things these other smart people are saying.

    I love to look at something I've created as a little piece of art. That means I like to break it down to its smallest elements and refine it as though it is a piece unto itself again and again... until I have created a whole.

    por exemplo, in a poem, I try and examine a line to make sure it is perfect, or a paragraph, or a chapter. Make each chapter a masterpiece. That is doable.

  24. Oh my God! I would LOVE a turquoise typewriter like that.
    THAT's how you crank out an award-winning novel!


And then you say....

(Comments submitted four or more days after a post is published won't appear immediately. They go into comment moderation to cut down on spam.)