It’s raining – again. Fires continue to burn the west and midwest, hurricanes along the coast with rip tides colliding with vacations. Here I sit watching the rain fall like tears out of the window. It’s a struggle on days like this, gloomy and rarely does my muse awaken – seems to be when I’m too busy to listen.
We all wonder if great writers before us ever struggled, do they struggle still? I have a quote from Stephen King, and I’m not sure when I read it, but it says, “There was a time when I thought I might not be good enough to publish.” What? He had doubts? John Steinbeck wrote: “When I face the desolate impossibility writing 500 pages, a sick sense of failure falls on me, and I know I can never do it. Then gradually, I write one page and then another…” (Chicken Soup for the Writer’s Soul, Chapter 7, Overcoming Obstacles.) All authors, successful and aspiring, go through periods of doubt, selfdeprication, demons and I just want to reassure you, you’re not alone. There is no golden method to find the inspiration, it must come from within and know that you’re good enough, in fact, very good and the world is waiting!
The Cold Hard Truth
I recently had a heart-to-heart with a friend/CP (critique partner) and she gave me the cold, hard truth on one of my WIPs. TMI! Yep, too much information that doesn’t move the story forward – get rid of it and get to the action. After thanking her for it, well, not right away. I let it stew for a few days and she’s right. I couldn’t see the trees through the forest. A very imporatant part of being a writer is hearing the critism with an open heart, not a defensive one. Hard for me. I have come to realize is that if I have to explain why, it probably shouldn’t be there.
I’m a huge fan of Stephen King’s On Writing (ha, if you didn’t know already) and in it, he says, “Kill your darling, kill your darlings, even when it breaks your egocentric little scribbler’s heart, kill your darlings.” I’m doing this… as hard as it is… I’m doing it and they’re right. You must be willing to listen to others, critique partners – masters – beta readers. If they say the scene isn’t needed and who cares about the picnic, it probably needs to go. Scenes and characters alike, sometimes, death is the only answer.
There will of course, be times when you stick to your guns and go against their advice and right or wrong, you’re the decision maker. A CP myself, I can tell you that it breaks my heart to say something doesn’t work as a reader and it’s hard. When you receive critique, don’t take that lightly, mull it over, let it breathe before you discount what they say. The decision could put you on the best sellers list or leave you floating in the netherverse of the invisible, just say’n.
Here’s an obligatory video because Google likes them from an SEO perspective. I love Lisa Scottoline and her “tell it like it is” channel on YouTube.
There is no right or wrong way to write a novel, well, outside of grammar, point of view. You know, basics, but your method is up to you. Knowing my character is very important to me to ensure her actions are pure. Add in a storyline that stays with me and angels sing from the heavens, I have a story. I’m pantster, write by the seat of my pants. One of my critique partners is a plotter, she knows where the story is going before she even begins. It doesn’t mean that it can’t change, but she has a roadmap where I have no GPS, just a movie reel in my head. Both are good, neither is wrong, we are just different.
Choose what works for you, listen to masters and critique partners and do your homework. As Stephen King says, “Do not come lightly to the page, it’s writing damn-it. It matters.” On Writing
Thanks for stopping by, would love to hear your thoughts. Leave a comment.
See you in the bookstores!
PS: Please forgive any typos or grammar issues. I struggle to see my own errors.