Wednesday, June 29, 2011

That Bad, huh?

I imagine some of you have written things, and given them to others to read. I don't know why, but every time I do this I get butterflies in my tummy. I pace back and forth and wonder if they think it's going to be garbage.

That always leads to the thought that it probably is garbage and I'm just wasting my time going down a literary path.

Then I always tell myself that I'll just keep writing because practice makes perfect, right?

Although if no one likes this, and this is my voice, doesn't that make me doomed?

Then again, writing brings me sanity, and well, you get the point.

Of all the things I could choose to spend my time doing, I choose writing. The most emotionally draining, sweat inducing, unprofitable thing in the world. Of course I can say the same thing about motherhood, which is the other thing I spend my time on.

I just have to ask myself, why I'm going through this torture? Do I really I have a bestselling book on my hands? No, honestly, I don't. Yet, I'm still pushing forward. I really don't know that I'll ever be published, but I do know I want to finish this. I can't go through my life asking what if?

I'm finishing my book because I need to know that I can follow something through to the end. That, and I'm rather attached to the story. Maybe a little too attached. I'm not sure anyone can love it like I do.

I want to know, how have you guys coped with others reading your work, and critiquing it? Anything to help me calm my nerves. Because really, I'm just a big softy.


Louise Bates said...

That's a tough one. The people who critique my work always tend to err on the side of kindness, which then makes me think it must be really bad if they're only saying nice things about it! (Note to self: get meaner critique partners.) This really is the sort of thing I can imagine only gets better the more you do it ... but I haven't done it enough yet to know for sure!

Sarah said...

I write something else. Or read something else. Those are my primary coping mechanisms. When I'm too tired, I watch movies and read blogs. In other words, I distract myself. It's what's getting me through the submission process. Good luck!

Steven W said...

I tell you, it can be tough. But my favorite critique readers are the ones who are most opinionated about what they don't like. The trick is remembering that even the bestsellers have people who didn't like it, so the comments you get need to be looked at through a lens that lets you agree or disagree without getting offended.

It helps if the beta readers you use are experienced with the kind of critique you're looking for.

Good luck!

Angela V. Cook said...

You're a very talented writer! You shouldn't worry so much! That being said, I know exactly how you feel ;o) I was a nervous wreck when I sent my first 5 pages off to you. I had this vision in my head of you suppressing laughter as you read it over, lol (that didn't happen, did it? haha, J/K)

I also agree with Elouise82- You want critique partners who are going to be honest and not be afraid to give you their two cents. Trust me--it's much better to have a fellow writer point things out than an agent. With my first book, I was terrified to have anyone read it, so I didn't. An agent requested the first 3 chapters (hard copy mailed to him). I was mortified when, along with the rejection, he included the firt two pages of my ms marked up to high heaven. I was so embarrassed, because most of the mistakes were simple errors that a good critique partner would've caught. One of those lessons learned the hard way I suppose!

Ava Jae said...

Everyone said it and it's true: it's hard.

I think one of the hardest parts of writing is distancing yourself from the work. Not too long ago a friend asked me what I would choose if I could have any talent in the world. I said the ability to distance myself from my writing immediately.

Yeah, it's that important.

Sending your work off to get critiqued is an important part of the process. Know that if the critique that comes back is harsh, it's actually a GOOD thing. Nice critiques don't really help you fix much if they don't point out many errors, right?

Good luck with the submission process! And know that you're totally not alone in this. :)

cherie said...

Hey Jen, I get butterflies too! Mammoth-size butterflies in my stomach. I'm a neurotic writer so that makes it extra hard. When I send off my work to be crit, I'm the kind who sits down and rereads my piece over and over again. Then I go through different phases:
1. Ok, it's not that bad.
2. Oh crap, I'm delusional!
3. Do you think I can get it back and edit?
4. Sighsighsigh...(checks email 20 times to see if I've gotten feedback yet)
5. Hmm, I wonder what I should make for dinner (surfs web)

:D Hang in there! You'll be fine. Goodluck and lots of hugs!

Kelley said...

Ugh, I know that feeling. HAaaaAte it. But I just tell myself once it's done and others are reading it, that it's done (until you need to edit it again) and I give myself full permission to write something else to get my mind off of it.

Plus, even if it was somehow awful, the thing about writing is, you can always write something else (and tell yourself it'll be better).

Bethany C. said...

Oh my gosh, YES!

I throw up a little every time I pass my MS on to someone. I've even created these little dialogues that play over and over in my head about what they're probably thinking at this part or during that scene.

They call us neurotic for a reason. You are definitely NOT alone!

Krista said...

My husband gave me the best advice ever after reading my novel. He said to take everything with a grain of salt, because it was my story. He said that I should not change something just to make one person happy.

Melanie said...

I have to admit that I totally know what you are talking about even though I have never sent five pages anywhere. I am not talented in the area of coming up with an original fictional story. I can't do that! Every time I used to try, it turned into one of the stories I've already read. I have, however, had that feeling you are talking about when I edited/critiqued your five pages, or have performed talents or expressed myself for the world, (no matter how small that world may be,) to see.

I think any time we open ourselves up, we risk negative opinions or critiques from others. Not that that makes it any easier to accept, but if we are confident in the knowledge that we have been blessed with a certain talent, writing in your case, we can take that constructive criticism and use it to help us become better.

And the fact that you care so much is a great thing. If you didn't, why write, why improve?

Thank you so much for contributing to the wholesome literary works of the world. I am honored to know you and am impressed with your talent. I love your passion for writing and the fact that you care to put out a quality product. I admit that it is hard to hear any criticism for something that is part of you; but that doesn't take away from the fact that you have been given a gift, one that very few people possess. Thank you for going out on a limb to improve that talent and bless the lives of those around you.

Christa said...

I have actually fallen in love with the critique process because it's so much more feedback than agents give you. It's like getting a personalized insight into what others are thinking.
And even if they don't love it, they tell you how to fix it which is Awesome.

life...just saying said...

I've never written a book. So cool that you are! I would love to, however. Not sure about the critique process. I care too much what other's think!!!

Thanks for stopping by my blog and leaving a comment.

Lipgloss Mumma said...

I haven't gotten to that stage yet. But I know when I do I will totally doubt my existence on this planet!

The Tame Lion said...

Yes, I understand, totally.
Just remember:
To reach a great height a person needs to have great depth.

This quote helped me a lot, I hope it'll help you too!
I'm always here to support you.

Marion Williams-Bennett said...

First off, I love this line..

"Of all the things I could choose to spend my time doing, I choose writing. The most emotionally draining, sweat inducing, unprofitable thing in the world"

I think you write because you have something to say, something beautiful that needs to be our in the world! Having someone critique it is important, but I think WHO you have critique it is a really important choice. If you believe in them, in their opinion, then you can stand to hear the feedback. Butterflies are wonderful, it shows you are alive!

Happy writing!

Melissa Ann Goodwin said...

It's so tricky isn't it!! People are different and they have different voices in their heads! I keep it to a very few, who love me and my writing, but will also tell me the truth. My husband is the best. I was afraid to show him my work at first (you know how that is) but it turned out he is both my biggest champion and my best critc. He catches me every time. I think it helps to get some smaller things published, then you begin to trust in your own voice and style. I'm publishing my first children's novel this fall, and part of the reason I have confidence in it is that I had two agents offer to represent it. That's the good news. Bad news was the agent didn't manage to sell it (I said only large publishers, no small ones or I'd do it myself). Good news was that having 2 agents want it helped me know it was good enough to face the world. So here I go. My final thinking on your question is: find just a couple (fewer than five) people who "get" you and only share with them. Look forward to following you on this journey, hope you'll stop by my place for a visit.

MTeacress said...

Sometimes it's easy (like via email with my old critique group). Other times it's hard (like in a conference workshop or classroom writing exercise read-aloud). The more I do it, the tougher my skin though, and strangely, the more confident I am with my 'gut' - at least today. It changes every month. ;)

Lyn Midnight said...

Awww Jen, I'm sure you'll finish this! And it's funny how writers do these head-tennis-matches all the time, isn't it? Or is it just us two? In any case, I know you're gonna do it because you're inspired and you're driven, so that should be enough.

I'll abstain from giving any sort of 'advice' or 'insight' because I'm really way worse off than you are right now. I'm also stubborn, but most of all, I'm ever so insecure in my writing. So much so, I have been trying to make myself EDIT for the past month. *sigh* One of these days I'll kick myself in the butt, slap myself in the face, and get the f*ck writing.

Oops, excuse my French, lol. *hugs* YOU CAN DO IT!

Emily Moir said...

I usually cry (or feel like crying) when I get negative critiques. But once I'm done with that I suck it up and really take a look at what was said. Sometimes the most hurtful things are the most helpful. I'd rather have the emotional roller coaster than not take care of my story though. I think anything you put that much time and effort into should count as your child. So, if you think of it that way of course you have to finish what you're writing. You wouldn't stop raising your child in their teen years just because someone tells you you're doing it wrong. If you really love it,never stop.

V said...

omg!!! You're almost done with the book? I've missed out on a lot of updates. Anyhoo...YAY!! That's awesome!

You're book need not be a best-seller to be a 'good'book. There are a lot of books which are pure classics and yet not many know about them. Those are more precious than the normal best sellers.
It's great that you find sanity through writing. Unfortunately, I don't find sanity through anything. lol. I'm cracked in the head you see. But you know that already. lol.