Thursday, March 25, 2010

Doing This Alone...Or Not

I've been working on revisions for a new project over the last few weeks. Several people have read the proposal and I've gotten some great suggestions from my first readers, the editor who's working with me and my amazing agent. Seriously, without them this book wouldn't be nearly as good as I hope that it is.

But this has also prompted a recent conversation about the process. And my inability to see some of the problems that these people have spotted. How is it that I can read someone else's book and know exactly what's missing but I can't see it in my own?

To make matters worse, in several instances they've pointed out things that should have been obvious to me. Things that made so much sense I felt like smacking myself for missing them. I think sometimes I get too close to the words and can't see the details that make up the big picture.

Yes, I realize that's why I ask these people to read. My editor has said a couple times that if I got it perfect every time then she'd be out of a job. I don't want that. I rather like her. :-) I know that every story I write could be stronger and I appreciate that there are so many people out there willing to help me make it the best that it can be.

Sometimes I worry that I couldn't do this on my own. Actually, I know I couldn't do this on my own. So many think of writing as a solitary pursuit. I'm here to say there's no way. Without each and every person who helps me along the way I know that I'd fail.

Anyone else ever felt this way?


P.S. Anita is PM's winner from yesterday. Please email her at playgroundmonitor@writingplayground to claim your prize.


Playground Monitor said...

You can't see the problems because it would be like saying your child is ugly. We get so close to our stories that we don't see the flaws.

I'm having the same problem with the book I want to pitch at Nationals. I either can't see anything wrong with it or I think everything's wrong with it.

Smarty Pants said...

Well, if you thought there was a problem with it, you would've written it differently to begin with. When you're in the weeds, you can't see the big picture.

But the obvious stuff can be frustrating. Why did someone else have to tell me something about my character that should've been like a neon sign on their forehead? That's just how it works. Take it and make the most of it and maybe the next time you'll see something on your own.

Lynn Raye Harris said...

Every single day. I'm struggling through that right now as I try to finish this book. I want to turn in the perfect manuscript to my editor, and yet I know it won't happen. I need her input, but I feel bad for making her work so hard. LOL, isn't that crazy?

Problem Child said...

We're too close to our writing to see the problems. After all, it makes perfect sense to *you* so it should make sense to everyone else, right?

But that's why we need editors :-)

Angel said...

I totally feel the same way! I've built up an elaborate support system that helps me get my books written right. Am I not a REAL writer if I can't do it on my own?

Especially plotting. We plot together all the time. Not only is it helpful, its fun. But would my books be as good if I had to plot on my own? And it isn't just about other people's ideas or suggestions, its the process of talking it out. Something one person says sparks another thought and then this takes place... It just gets the ideas firing.

I know I'm a writer, I really am. :) Sigh.


susanwilson44 said...

I know exactly what you mean. I send work to my critique partner and when I see what she writes back I think "Of course!" Often I can't put my finger on what I think is wrong and it's great to have a second set of eyes with a clear perspective!

Caroline Storer said...

Like PM said - we way too close to our babies! Caroline x

Stephanie said...

I agree that it is difficult to see the problem for the love of the characters and story. Often even if I know it feels "off" I can't see how to fix it.

I am sorry others have this problem too but I am also glad to know that we are not alone.

I like to think that as SP said I get better at identifying the problem. In our WIP I had a blinding flash of inspiration about the conflict and resolution so I guess that might be progess!

Christine said...

Today my CP got the Golden Heart Finaling announcement. My other CP, with her at the time (wish I was too), turned her and said, "we've finaled in the GH!"

I was so excited for her, I didn't even care that I hadn't finaled in my own category.

Amazing feeling to share. But ultimately, this is HER victory. We see things wrong and point them out, but it is up to the writer to listen and learn and fix.

She did the work.

And now you are doing the work, too. No, you're not alone, but when you are in front of the computer and fixing and working--you are the one doing the job.

I sent off my most recent draft/revision and said, "I know it's not there, but I can't see the forest for the trees. Help!" I trust my circle of writers to help me wade through the mess. And they trust me to take their advice on the chin and go back into the jungle to battle it again.

And now, back to my own ugly baby and the face lift I must give it AGAIN.

Angel said...

Yay, Christine's CP!!! Congrats!