Writing is hard.
There…I said it. No matter what anyone tells you, no matter if you have days when the words flow from within you like water cascading down Angel Falls, writing – good writing – is damned hard. And if you don’t believe me, read the reviews of any book you’ve written, and they’ll set you straight.
That’s what they’re for, you know. Oh, sure, they inform prospective readers what they have to look forward to when they crack open your baby…good or bad. But – and it’s a big but – they also tell you how you did. How well you told your story. How convincing that story was. Believable? Nonsense? Captivating? Paperweight?
The thing is, what do you do with that knowledge? Do you use it, tuck it away for the next time, and take lessons learned? That’s the smart thing, of course, but maybe even that’s not enough.
Admit it…it ain’t easy, hearing disparaging comments about your work, even ones meant to be constructive. Let’s face it, you just spent weeks, months constructing a work of art you swear is the next “Carrie”, revised, tweaked, adjusted, amended, re-wrote, smoothed and rephrased yourself right into a literary masterpiece, and some lunk who probably mows down corn for a living just dared to give you two stars. (No offense to the corn slingers – I’ve done that too, and trust me, it ain’t easy, either).
However. If enough folks mention the same thing (that’s called a pattern, people), then that-there smoke is’n cause to look fer a fire. And that fire might well burn your book’s success right down to a little, smoldering black cinder. In other words, do something about it. Even after the book is finished. Because, well hell, when is a book ever finished?
That’s the real question. Is your book finished? When you put the cover on it, trumpeted it’s existence to all the world, marketed every site this side of the Baltic and started watched the Amazon rankings at 5 a.m. every day, was it finished?
Or is it done whenever you’ve made it into the absolute very best work you possible can.
Re-writing parts of “The Clearing” was something I had to do. I was in hell, thinking that people were going to read something that I knew was flawed. It wasn’t believable, wasn’t truthful, just wasn’t right. And you know, maybe it still isn’t. Perhaps, despite my best efforts, someone somewhere is going to tell the world that it sucks. Likely to happen, in fact. Let’s say inevitable.
But I know that it’s now the best that I can do. And as I anticipate the day of my baby’s re-launch, my friends, that gives me peace.