I have a wee confession to make today.
I’m having a bit of a crisis.
No, it’s not like the time I had to rewrite Bound and had a small meltdown here because of that. I think most of you weren’t here for that, and trust me, that’s for the best that you weren’t, even if I did try to think of that as an opportunity at the time. And it did turn out to be the best thing I ever did for myself, allowing me to learn and grow as a writer, and to finally figure out my biggest, longest-standing problem in how I approached and wrote stories, other than the whole “I’m not a pantser” nugget of wisdom.
This isn’t that sort of crisis. There’s likely to be no happy ending to this one, partly because I doubt this will ever end.
Some of you just *might* have noticed that I am a very self-critical person. I suppose that, as a writer, it serves me well, but there are times when I wish that had an off switch, even though the rest of me doesn’t. I’m having one of those moments.
You see, I’m working through the first round of revisions/edits with All Stitched Up, and that’s causing this crisis in my brain. I like Stitched. I’m startlingly happy with it. That’s not to say I’m not making changes and smoothing stuff out, and I’ve already made two, um, rather mean comments to myself on the pdf of the manuscript where I’m doing mark-up. But, having just finished Chapter 2, I’m still happy with the story itself. Remember that small meltdown I had about the first chapter of The Nine? Yeah, nothing remotely resembling that in Stitched. I haven’t had a single moment so far of real angst about this one. Admittedly, that’s only two chapters out of 32, so there’s going to be plenty of time for angst, but I usually do go through some in the first couple of chapters, particularly as nailing the opening is rather key.
And so this is where the crisis steps in. What if I like it because I’m being too easy on myself? Yes, my brain came up with that question in all seriousness, and despite the two comments I mentioned. One of those was strictly related to the cheese factor of the phrasing I’d used for a particular sentence and it really was at gag-me levels. But that’s easily fixed. In fact, everything I’ve been finding have been easily fixed, and that makes me suspicious. What if I’m not being hard enough on this book?
If you haven’t figured out yet that I love my main character, Devan, a little too much, you haven’t been paying enough attention (or you’re really new to my blog). At this point, I’m now wondering if that’s interfering with my professionalism. Most of me scoffs at the very idea, I assure you. Past experiences have suggested I might even take that professional self-criticism too far, yet I’m wondering. I find it utterly hilarious that I can’t deal with the idea that maybe I’m not finding significant aspects to criticize yet because I wrote a good beginning. Honestly, every time I try to even think that, the sarcasm drips out of my ears and nose as I think “Yeah, right, because you’re the second coming of (insert amazing author you love here).” Even typing it caused a flood of the stuff. Pardon me while I mop up for a bit.
Part of me knows I’m being a bit ridiculous about this, being upset because I like what I wrote and think it’s good. That same part is almost sure that I’m not being too easy on myself. I was the one who threw out a whole 107k-word manuscript less than a year ago and started over because it had such fundamental flaws that there was no other way to fix it. I was the one crying here about stuff not being good enough about a month ago. Maybe that’s the problem, that I’m used to finding things like that and I don’t know how to handle not finding them. And again, I’m aware that I may yet find such issues in the remaining 29 chapters I have to go through on Stitched. I just know how complacency can creep in on you, and I don’t want to be that author (when I have the legitimate right to call myself that), the one whose quality slips as their career goes on. I’ve seen that as a reader and swore to myself I’d never do that if I ever had readers of my own. So I’m trying to be vigilant about it, but maybe I’m being too much so and driving myself crazy(er). God knows, I’d never be caught giving myself significant praise. My test readers both know how true that is.
Do you see why I don’t think there’s a happy ending here? I imagine that I will always second-guess work that I think is actually good, partly to hold that complacency at bay. But it isn’t easy to live with that on a daily basis. I’ll learn to cope with it though. Somehow.