Receiving feedback about a novel you’re currently editing can be extremely discouraging. When you have someone purposely read your book to critique its failings (which is an absolute must for any writer looking to improve/publish) it feels like someone dropped a piano on your head. People won’t understand (and sometimes they won’t care) that if they ask you to change one thing about your story, even a small thing, it has a domino effect and you have to change everything across the entire novel. And then you wish you’d caught that inconsistency when you were actually writing the story instead of having to go back through and change the entire thing. All part of the learning process.
This happened with Concealed Power as well. The book took twice as long as the first because I had to go back and re-write entire character’s personalities. With Bear Heart, I didn’t have to re-write much at all. It was really simple (and a relief). All of this, I accept. The idea that I’ll mess up the next book and make life really hard for myself is what drives me to pay attention to this round of feedback. I can avoid my future mistakes by coming face-to-face with them now.
I see this year and next year as being my steepest learning curve, and I always hope that I’ve grasped things well enough that I don’t end up feeling discouraged. I suspect, though, that moments of discouragement just come with the writing process.
Examples of feedback a writer can receive:
‘Make the fight scenes longer.’
‘Add in more character quirks.’
‘Add in this explanation for this character’s behaviour.’
‘That character sounds too evil, make them more philosophically influenced rather than fantastically bad.’
‘Your protagonist needs to react more.’
Regardless of whether these types of criticisms are valid or not, as the author it’s your job to listen to them, and decided whether it’s worth your time and effort to fix them — most of the time it is *groan*. I’ve had to decide between what’s important to fix, and what I can leave behind in the manuscript. Sure, I could have a gung-ho attitude and dive into re-writing and fiddling with my manuscript with the enthusiasm of a squirrel on speed, but I think that’s just another way of trying to be perfectionistic.
Here’s the facts:
— Editing can really suck.
— Receiving constructive/nonconstructive criticism can suck.
— Realising you have to go back and edit every single sentence of your entire novel is daunting (and sucks).
Writing books well is hard. There’s no question about it. There’s a trick to maintaining momentum in your publishing/writing schedule, and here it is:
KEEP WORKING AT IT!