The Insecure Writer

ο»ΏI’ve been writing for a little over a year. Pride bubbled in me when I finished my first manuscript. I honestly thought I was ready to be published after the first draft. Okay, maybe after passing through it with one quick edit. Yeah, I know you’re laughing. I just figured my job was to write the story, while the editor’s job was to edit the draft. Boy was I wrong.

My first clue was after submitting my work to a critique group. I tell you, they ripped into my manuscript like they were shredding sensitive documents. It didn’t discourage me though. I only became more determined to get it right. Cause I absolutely knew I had a novel worth publishing.

That’s not to say I didn’t have some tough times. A few times I cried over some of the things the meanies said about my work. But once the tears dried, I went right back to the drawing board, ready to prove them wrong.

So if I’m so determined, what’s with the insecure writer crap? The second guessing! Oh My Word! Sifting through the critiques drive me insane. Everyone has their little pet peeve. There are a hundred billion gazillion guidelines folks think are “rules.” And I’m constantly asking myself, “should I follow their advice?” “If I do, will I improve my work or make it drab?”

Then there’s the whole, “I’m not so fond of this piece of advice; I’m not going to use it.” Will the critter be offended when he/she sees the non-changes?

GAH! the stress of it all!!! And it all leads to, will readers love or hate my story?

So what do I do? Push on and hope for the best. It may not be the most effective method, but it’s what I have for now.

How do you deal with writer insecurity?

I like the terms de-had’ing and de-was’ing

I’ve been so caught up in my writing goals, I completely forgot my Friday post. First things first. πŸ™‚ I haven’t drawn a winner for the Kitty Thomas Interview. Give me until midnight tomorrow.

On to new things! A few days ago, I made the suggestion to a writer to consider de-had’ing and de-was’ing his work. I know, I know: screw the rules!

Here’s the thing, “was” and “had” are not bad words to be avoided at all costs. However, a work bombarded by them is a bit drab. In fact, it turns into a laundry lists of descriptions and actions. Take the following example:

Jack stacked the last box and leaned against the fork lift. He had a smile as I approached. He was dressed like any other worker. He had on loose blue jeans and a white tank top. He was gorgeous. His hair was black and curly, and his eyes dark brown. He was average height, five ten and slim.

Straightforward enough. We got his stats. Good enough, right? Well, if you say so. Try this one.

Jack stacked the last box and leaned his five ten frame against the fork lift. A slight smile played on his lips, as he hooked a thumb into his blue jeans, drawing my attention to narrow hips. He’d trimmed down since I’d last seen him. The heavy lifting had devoured the chubbiness from high school and left lean muscle in its place. The white wife beater, which stretched tight against his chest, begged to be replaced with a shirt more accommodating to his growing pecs (not really, but hey! work with me). He flicked his head, and dark curly bangs lifted out of his brown eyes before settling on his broad forehead. With his olive skin, he was well on his way to becoming a Greek god.

Maybe not the best writing, but pretend like it is. πŸ™‚ Notice I didn’t remove every “had” or “was.” Like I said, they do have their place in writing. But by weaving the descriptions within activities, those words can be reduced while livening the writing a bit. Look here. πŸ™‚ I found a picture for you. Wanna give it a try?

She looked at the ceiling as if in deep thought. She had on a black denim dress with ruffles at the hem. Her hair was dark blond.

The Great Thing about Learning

So, I just finished another pass at editing/revising Shadow Cat. Sometimes I feel like it’s a never ending chore, but at the same time, it’s also insightful.

If you’ve followed this blog for the short duration of it’s existence, you know I’ve been shopping for representation for Shadow Cat since the beginning of the year. And you know it’s been met with quite a few rejections.

That’s okay…kinda. πŸ™ I’m dealing with that…kinda. πŸ™ Once and awhile a rejection will fuel an editing/revising session. That happened a couple of month ago. I received a rejection which gave me a little feedback. I love feedback. How I wish every rejection had a little snippet of it.

A lot of published writers (after years of experience in the industry)Β  mention rereading their first complete manuscript and realizing it’s a big pile of crap. Now I haven’t gotten to that point with Shadow Cat. However, after obtaining a little (I mean minute) bit of experience under my belt, I see some of the problems with this manuscript. Like areas where I could be more engaging.

I don’t always know how to fix them, but at least I am able to identify many of them. A first step!

Anyway, I’m letting Shadow Cat stew for a bit while I work on another project of mine. πŸ™‚ Gosh I love new projects. They’re so full of wonderful.

Here’s to no getting hung up on old projects!

What’s your revision process?

When to Cut/Revise

Editing is an ongoing process for me. I just can’t seem to stop myself from making bitty changes here and there. I really dislike editing, but I seek perfection. Like that’ll happen. haha I continue anyway in the hope I can make my manuscripts just a wee bit better.

Then there are my problem sections. These are parts which I simply have to cut or do a complete rework. How do I know I’ve come to that moment? Simple, I hit a spot in my work which I absolutely hate to edit. I can look at the chapter for days on end, dreading it, hoping I make it to the end. These scenes really just need to go. Cause really, if I can’t stand it, what makes me think a reader wants to suffer through it? πŸ™‚

The thing is cutting massive chunks of my precious material hurts. It hurts a lot. What if I need those parts later? Besides that, I’d worked so hard to get them down in the first place. Well tough! Sometimes writers just have to let go. I have to let go! And so I do it! I cut those parts that I cling to like lifelines. Cause really, they’re not saving anyone. In fact, they’re more like weights dragging my manuscript underwater.

Okay, I’m talking a big game here. I’m really a pack rat and have a hard time throwing away ANYTHING. So what do I do? I have a special folder I keep all my discarded scenes in case I need to bore myself at some later time. It’s my way of letting go without letting go.

So! How do you know you need to cut a scene or seriously revise it? Is it easy for you to do away with your not so great stuff? What methods do you use to do it?