Monday, June 25, 2012

Meant to be Written?

Let's talk about something fun. For this NaNo I've been working on a story that I originally started about two years ago. I loved the premise, but to say the plot was weak is an understatement. I kept writing though, thinking it would come to me. 563 pages later the plot still hadn't magically appeared. I stopped writing the story at that point, though I never forgot about it.

So. I started rewriting for NaNo, this time with a vague idea of major plot points. Twenty days in and I was doing good - before I realized I was writing the same story again. I took two days out of writing and wrote a one paragraph synopsis for each chapter until I reached the end of the story. It's tight. It flows and it doesn't stop - exactly the kind of story I like to read.

I started writing it yet again, this time knowing what was going to happen. I wrote the first line and then the first paragraph and then the first chapter. It felt different, right.

But then there's always those doubts that creep in. Was I creating the atmosphere I wanted? Did the tone I set convey that feeling of something just being a little off? Was it all in my head that this could actually be good? Am I using the correct pov and in the correct way? You get the idea. I started doubting myself and everything I'd written.

Writing is a very solitary business. I swore to myself that I wouldn't let anyone read this until I was done. Too many times I've gotten sidetracked by what others think I need to do. I don't want to do that anymore. For as many people out there who genuinely want to help, there are the same number or more who would like nothing more than to see you fail. For some reason, they see other writers as competition. That's stupid.

But I was desperate. I needed someone to tell me if it was shit or not (and yes, that's an official ranking criteria I ask my critiquers to use). I decided to ask someone to read my opening paragraph. Not just anyone, but someone who's seen my work grow. I have this friend. She's a wonderful friend and just a lovely human being. She's also an editor. She mainly works with magazines, but the ones she works for are known nationally and internationally. In other words, she knows what she's talking about. I try not to take advantage of her though. Her feedback is invaluable to me. I emailed her and asked her if she'd be willing to read the first paragraph. She responded instantly and I sent it out.

Within twenty minutes I had a response:

"I love it! I want to be there. I LOVE the pair of ocean/water metaphors at the beginning -- love it so much that I think you could benefit from playing it up even more. Like, maybe there's a stronger, more active verb or phrase that you could use instead of "...covered the..." -- one that conjures a more specific image? That's such a powerful beginning. So much awesome in this paragraph!"

Immediately after reading this, I almost cried. That's all I wanted to know. But then I started thinking about my first sentence that had the  "covered the." I'd rewritten this sentence maybe five or six times and I knew it wasn't perfect. I took her advice and spent an hour rewriting that one sentence. I sent that one sentence back to her.

"Yes!! I think that's a big step in the right direction. Very distinct image, and just a little hint of creepy."

That was it. That is what I needed. She didn't tell me it was perfect, she gave me the nudge as to what I could do to improve it and I did.

Anyway, this is my attempt to not neglect this blog so much. I never know what I'll write about and didn't really intend to write about writing, but that's what I'm trying to focus on instead of thinking of other things. Hope love and happiness find you.


  1. I completely understand. I always doubt my writing. Usually, for me it happens about 20k into a WIP. Sometimes I go back and rewrite other times I keep plucking away. It's always slow going once I let doubt creep in, but I keep moving forward and that's what counts.

    Asking for someone else's thoughts on a WIP is just what we need some times. Not that we need a pat on the back, but just to let us know we're going in the right direction.

    Keep working on it. You'll get there!

    1. Thank you, Mariah. That's exactly where I was. Doubt had found its way in and it seemed everything I wrote was just wrong.

      I saw on your profile that you got a "yes" on your story - that's amazing!!!! Congratulations!

  2. Sadly, I think doubt will always be a part of writing. I keep thinking it'll get better, but it doesn't. We just have to work through it. Honestly, I think I like revising much better than drafting. By that point, I can actually see the good in my writing.

    Thanks for the congratulations!

  3. I agree. As much as I despise self doubt, I think it's completely necessary and painfully helpful. If I thought everything I wrote was good - I'd never accept a critique or probably ever be published. I'm almost done with this draft and so excited to start revisions.

  4. That's amazing! I love that feeling and I'm so glad you've found your story. Or maybe your story found you? It sounds like it's been looking for you for a while... ;)

    1. Thank you, Jamie!! I really appreciate it. Yes, this story has been in the back of my mind for too long. It feels good to finally write and know where it's going. I can't wait to read it myself :)