Ever written something you really liked only to have someone tell you it’s not right/good/perfect/delightful? yeah, that happened to me. Yesterday, in fact. It’s crushing. It always is. And it’s part of the daily world of writers. I hate that part. But the truth is, that’s why agents and editors exist–to tell you what you need to improve your writing. While it’s hard to hear, at the same time, it’s necessary to improving craft.
It’s not that the entire piece was wrong. Just most of it. Heh. Really though, the conversation was really constructive and taught me a lot about where I need to go with this project. I’m going to have to tear it down to the ground, and some things will still work as is, and some will be able able to be recycled later, but essentially it’s a complete rebuild. It’s a little daunting, but also exhilarating. I love this project. It’s fun. I’ll have as much fun rewriting as I did with the initial drafting. I look forward to it.
The thing is this. When someone gives you news you don’t like about your work, it’s going to hurt. Accept it. Eat some chocolate and pour a shot of scotch, maybe two or four. Wallow. Weep. Snuggle the dog and watch a couple episodes of Devious Maids, Firefly, Farscape, or Duck Dynasty. When that’s done, pull yourself up, get to your computer or wherever you write, and start thinking this through. You always get to be in control of your writing, but let’s face it, others can have an experienced eye and a perspective that can and will improve your work–if you let it.
That doesn’t mean throw everything out and stop trusting yourself or your voice. But try to see what it is you want to do and how you want to do it and how you missed the mark with what you did. Then salvage what you can and rebuild and re-envision what your want to do and go for it.
We all need that gut check/gut kick. Like it or not, pain is part of the process. Don’t just accept it. Embrace it.
By way of a bit of shameless self promotion, anyone in the Portland Area tonight, I’ll be reading as part of the SFWA Pacific Northwest Reading series with Laura Anne Gilman and Irene (Phyl) Radford. More info here. I’d love to meet you if you can make it!