Just a few days ago, I got a nice sucker punch to the gut that was oh so very necessary. It came in the form of feedback over my earliest completed story–Darryn’s trilogy; particularly the second book in the trilogy, that no one else has read. You know, the same trilogy that I’m pretty sure a few blog posts ago (or many blogs ago, as I have been absent for quite some time recently and I apologize profusely for that), I was bragging that, after completing another round of edits, I thought were close to being ready for publication.
Ha ha ha.
Let me preface this to say that while receiving this feedback felt like a punch in the gut, it was a necessary punch in the gut. And it was delivered thoughtfully, respectfully, professionally and coming from someone who I admire a very, very, very high amount. She could have said she hated my work (which she didn’t) and I would still think so highly of her and value her opinion. But hearing that your work isn’t ready yet when you thought you were close and have been working for years is never an easy pill to swallow.
But even more so, this time around, it was an eye-opener.
Some of the major points of advice I was given include (amongst other things, but no one needs to see my six total pages of notes, suggestions and ideas):
- Characters and their desires/motivations/goals aren’t clear
- Chapter endings don’t end in the most natural spot
- Doesn’t feel focused
- Really consider which POVs are necessary
- A lot scenes are there simply to include worldbuilding elements that aren’t actually necessary in that moment
- Would that character realistically do that? Why didn’t they do THIS?
Granted, I have some ah, some work to do.
And that’s work I’m putting off for a while. I got new stories I want to write and the amount of revision this one is going to undergo is a bit more than I can swallow at the moment (but I promise you, I’m not giving up on this story; no way in hell). But about halfway through our phone conversation, I had that moment; that eye-opener; that a-ha; that moment where everything suddenly came:
Almost every thing that was pointed out in my work that could be improved? Those are the elements that I am most nitpicky about when editing others works, whether it is the one client I’m working with or simply beta reading for some friends. How worldbuilding is incorporated, realistic dialogue, characters making rationale choices that match with their personalities and chapter endings are elements I almost always comment on and ask writers to amp up in their stories. But did I ever think to look at my own writing and see why those elements stuck out to me so glaringly?
I think you know the answer to that question.
So, massive facepalm moment later, my lesson has been learned, my thoughts on my own writing humbled and my determination has hardened. Despite every punch, every moment when I think I’m ready but I’m not (and when I think I’m not ready yet I am), despite every flair of fear or doubt, I’m learning. I’m growing. My writing is improving. And though I’m not sure when I’ll return to edit my most precious of stories, I will be editing them and you will be reading them one day. And we’ll all look back at this moment, this lesson, and laugh. And we’ll be thankful for readers willing to deal out the hard truths and writers who refuse to give up.