Sunday, March 30, 2014

Reptilian Melody

I just finished a major rewrite of my latest novel. Each successive version of the piece comes closer to what I had hoped to glean when I started, yet I ask myself, “Is a writer’s job ever finished?” Eventually I just have to abandon the effort, except my imperfections, and move on to my next endeavor.

But when do I place my baby on the stranger’s doorstep and run? My writer friends tell me revision is necessary and to edit my work until it is right.  If you are like me, I pick my prose to death. I’m never quite satisfied with my sentence structure or my word choices.  Often, when I change things, I add additional mistakes without realizing my error. Years can go by before I even allow others to read the manuscript, and then a day after I send it off I’ve already changed the story. I lament, "Why didn't I wait until now?"
My problem is I don’t want others to see my imperfections. I envision my readers rolling their eyes and muttering to themselves, “What was she thinking? And she calls herself a writer!” But I can’t please everyone. It’s imperative that I rely on fresh eyes and fresh perspective to shake the kinks out of my writing. Neither do I know all things and allowing others to peruse my words can only improve my work.

All writers must become reptiles. They must don a tougher skin. Accepting criticism and acknowledging their lack is part of their craft. Unfortunately, no other way exists to achieve a higher level of accomplishment.
Still, the thought of someone’s corrections stabs me to the core. I better scour my closet for that thick skin over-suit.

Hmm… now where did I hang it last?

4 comments:

G.M. said...

I saw you again at Bonnee's blog so came to say Hello. Writing is an art form that you can always make changes. It's a never ending story. I'm sure that famous authors of well-known novels will tel you that they wish to come back and rewrite some parts. I'm all the time adding little things to my complete novels, until hopefully they'll get published. Respectfully, I think that it's a mistake not to showing your writing to as many people as you can. I did and got many useful comments. Rejections, many many rejections, is part of the process for getting published. We just accept it after realizing that rejecting our writing is not rejecting us personally. best wishes in this very long road to get your novel publishing.

Katy Z said...

I just found your blog and love it. I find I write best by just writing and then come back to revisit quite a long time later and see the words in a new light. I am often impatient and rush...feeling my work is as I want it 'enough' to let it be. Then I find it later and wish I waited just a little longer...I see what is needed to make the leap from content to happy...but sometimes I just settle and move on. Those pieces are often forgotten or ignored. I don't publish anything so it doesn't matter, except to me. Publishers have a mindset before they read...they are human and bring their own eye to the work. Keep going and you will find someone who 'sees' what you see and you will soar.
Katy xx

Peggy Shumway said...

Thanks for your comments G.M. and Katy Z. The balance between writing and sharing is so hard for me. One thing I must remember is I will never publish unless I let others read my work. So I have now breathed in courage and my manuscript is with a few readers. I just hope I don't chew my nails off before I hear the results.

Bonnee Crawford said...

Hey Peggy,

Sharing your imperfect work with others can be a daunting experience, but I always find it so helpful to get another set of eyes onto my writing. Workshopping my assignments in my university classes has helped me get used to this process. The trick is to find people who are on much the same boat as you so that you don't have to worry about them passing nasty judgement, but who also have the skill to help you improve.

Growing that thick skin can happen with good practice. Hope you find your reptilian coat. :)