The other day our highly intelligent and quite demanding Snarky Dwarf sent me a link to a blog post.
Here’s the thing, this post was just what I needed to read at this particular moment. With two books out there, and working on a third, I’m starting to recognize that there are a couple of stages in the writing game every writer goes through. The first one comes after you begin to fall from that high of being published and seeing your first work out there–all alone in the big bad world of readers, where it can be raised up and kicked down faster than lightning. You try not to get obsessive about the reviews, feedback and those pesky things known as ratings, but those little voices manage to wiggle their way in and tear bits and pieces off of your creativity. Together those small things gain strength, and so the debilitating question looms on your writing horizon—can I really manage to write another book?
Answer: Hell, yeah you can. You’re a writer, stop worrying about what’s being said out there. You’re out there. Readers are reading you. You have to be doing something right. So in a truly horribly NY/Bronx accent “Forget about it!” and write your story. Take the things you’ve learned with your first book, do them better or fix them in your second.
Once I made it through and got the second book done, it was time to tackle the third. This was hard because I was leaving behind the familiarity of Raine and Gavin to focus on another character, Xander. Granted she has some of the same things that makes Raine, well Raine, but she uniquely herself. It took me longer than expected to get Xander and Warrick’s story off the ground. Now that I’m about 100 pages in, it’s starting to come together…bit by bit.
Yet while I’m crafting this story, I’m still getting feedback on Shadow’s Edge and Shadow’s Soul. I know you’ll never please all your readers all of the time, but it is so easy to fall into the downward spiral of “OMG, I need to change this…” or “Maybe I should do this instead…” Second guessing ourselves is not productive, not even a little bit.
Reading Kris’s post as she discusses when is your book truly done…I so needed to hear her when she said,
“I’m here to tell you this: If you want a career as a writer, ignore your critics.
When the book is finished, when the book is published for heaven’s sake, then it’s done. Irrevocably done. Mistakes and all.”
So now, I make it a point not to obsess over rankings or critiques–readers will either love it or hate it, it’s out there, I’m not changing it. For now, all I can do as a writer, is take what I’ve learned, and use it for Shadow’s Moon. And the mistakes I make in that story, I’ll just use those to make the next one even better.
I’m a writer, but I won’t be much of one if I don’t learn and grow from my screw-ups. Besides, who knows, maybe one of those screw-ups will turn into a flash of genius!