The writer’s rollercoaster

self-publishing-author-rejection

I recently came into contact with a writer. Nothing unusual about that around here, but this wasn’t through blogging or any of the usual channels. We talked for a while, establishing that there were a whole load of coincidences leading up to our encounter, which seemed to break the social ice… and then we got down to talking about writing.

For a number of reasons, this writer had lost confidence in the book they had published… a first novel with what sounded like a great plot. Having read a fair bit of it, I could see the effort that had gone in to producing a gripping story and a well-presented book. The writer, though, had noticed the minor flaws and, as such things do, they had taken over, dulling what should have been justifiable pride.

I remember both those feelings vividly… that moment when you finally hold your first book in your hands is amazing! But the pendulum swings both ways and, when you find the first typo in that glorious product of your imagination, the first really clunky phrase that makes you cringe and the obvious error (that is usually on either the front page or the cover) then you plumb the depths of literary despair.

It doesn’t seem to matter how long, how hard or how carefully you go over that damned manuscript, something slips through the net. This is especially true of our first attempts at Indie publishing. Some of my early covers, for example, are in desperate need of updating. So is some of the editing… and the proofing! But then, I know I am not on my own.

I read a lot. I always have…and I frequently revisit much-loved tomes, finding in their stories a perfect way to read myself to sleep. It doesn’t matter that I know many of these books almost word for word, I can still lose myself in the familiar unfamiliarity of their worlds. Many of these books are classics in their genre, published by some of the most famous writers via the biggest traditional publishers with all their expertise and experience and a team of dedicated, specialised staff.

cartoon-about-writers

Since becoming familiar with the sharp end of editing, proofing and presentation, I notice things that I never noticed before. Like chunks of transposed text, obvious spelling mistakes, typos and grammatical errors that even a five-year-old should not make. Sentences clunkier than a rusty bike and holes in the plot you could ride the bike through.

Does it matter?

If it were my book… hell, yes, it would bug me no end. As a writer and editorial dogsbody, I can’t help but notice. But as a reader? Not a bit. If the story is good, then the story is good… and when you are reading fiction, it is the story that counts. That ‘willing suspension of disbelief’ kicks in, the critical eye takes a holiday and the imagination carries you to a world where the occasional typo is of far less importance than the dragon you are riding or the marauding orcs on your tail.

It goes without saying that, when you are getting a book out there, you must do all that you can to make it the best that it can be. But you cannot do more than that. If you know that you have done your best, what else can you ask of yourself…except to learn to do better.

cartoon-publishing

Indie publishing, like writing itself, is a steep learning curve for all who roll up their virtual sleeves and start working. For those who do not have the financial means to employ professional editors, and designers, there is a point beyond which you simply have to accept that you have done your best…for now. Most of us who have followed that route will eventually look back on our first efforts and see the flaws. Some we may simply let stand, as a testament to the learning curve and an acceptance of having learned. Others we can and will put right by going back and doing a better job.

You cannot put right what has yet to be written. Nor can you distance yourself sufficiently from your first book in order to see it with clear eyes instead of rose-coloured lenses until you have progressed on your journey. The main thing is to remember that you had a story to tell and you have told it… you have written that book that so many will talk about writing ‘one day’.

It is easy to lose confidence in your work. A bad review, a good look at your own errors with more experienced and objective eyes, even reading a similar tale by someone who, you may decide, has ‘done it better’… A writer can be their book’s biggest fan and their own worst enemy, all rolled into one, but the bottom line is that a book is written to be read. It was written because you had something to share. And it was written in the hopes that it would amuse, entertain, inform or inspire. The odd typo won’t ruin a good story.

My writer friend said, having thought the problem through, “I need to stop being fearful and just get on with it! It’s not about me and what I feel – it’s how I can make others feel!”

pencil-editor

About Sue Vincent

Sue Vincent is a Yorkshire-born writer and one of the Directors of The Silent Eye, a modern Mystery School. She has written a number of books, both alone and with Stuart France, exploring ancient myths, the mysterious landscape of Albion and the inner journey of the soul. She is owned by a small dog who also blogs. Follow her at scvincent.com and on Twitter @SCVincent Find her books on Goodreads and follow her on Amazon worldwide to find out about new releases and offers. Email: findme@scvincent.com
This entry was posted in Books, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

91 Responses to The writer’s rollercoaster

  1. We all are prone to listening to that demon on our shoulder who whispers “not good enough …”. However, as you say Sue, writers should have confidence. Yes, we should learn from our mistakes (for none of us are perfect) but never let that demon still your writing hand. Kevin

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Christa chn says:

    Thank you a lot, reading your article has helped me within this little fog of doubts that I am going through. It’s good to hear those words fr talented writers.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Wise words, and love the witty cartoons 🙂 I can so relate to what you share about reading old favourites again and again and not caring about their flaws, because the story carries you through the journey regardless of the odd typo or clunky sentence. xxx

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Great article, very encouraging. Loved it . . . except for one little thing . . . a Friday Funny queued for late next month and dedicated to writers included every single cartoon above. (::sigh:: back to the editing board.) Great minds laugh alike?
    xx,
    mgh
    (Madelyn Griffith-Haynie – ADDandSoMuchMORE dot com)
    ADD Coach Training Field founder; ADD Coaching co-founder
    “It takes a village to educate a world!”

    Like

  5. Agree with every word. Great post, Sue.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. The doubt is always chasing any writer/author. ‘Haunting doubt’ :)) i think its kinda normal for human beings and especially for creative ppl..

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Mick Canning says:

    All very true. It is so easy to be fearful about the whole process (God knows, I’m still afraid that the first really bad review will destroy my confidence). And I love the cartoons!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      The cartoons made me chuckle, Mick…I had to share them 🙂
      The fear of the creative has many causes, and it is interesting to trace them back and see what they say about us. What exactly is it that we are really afraid of? And why do we write in the first place… and, depending on that reason, do we really need to fear at all?

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Thanks for the encouraging post, Sue. 🙂 — Suzanne

    Like

  9. adeleulnais says:

    i recognise myself in this piece, Sue. I started to think that Wisp was rubbish, yes, rubbish but I quickly had a talk with myself. Even when writing this I thought oh no I’ve used an abverb “quickly”, lol it is a rollercoaster ride. x

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      To perdition with adverbs…and those who say never to use them! Have you read Harry Potter lately? 🙂 Ms Rowling shakes them liberally on the page.
      Write the book that is in you…and leave it to reach the readers it is meant for xx

      Liked by 2 people

  10. KL Caley says:

    Brilliant article, Sue! I completely agree (and appreciate every word). That self-doubting critical voice can be so strong, I know, but it has to be conquered or we’d never get a page written and so many wonderful stories would never make it out into the world. KL ❤

    Like

  11. Mary Smith says:

    Excellent, Sue. Full of wise words and sage advice. It’s so easy to lose confidence in our writing and difficult to climb back up the slippery slope of despondency. I loved the cartoons!

    Like

  12. fransiweinstein says:

    Great post Sue. I can totally relate. I am my own harshest critic. I go back and re-read blognposts or ads or websites or anything else I’ve ever written and see only the flaws.

    Like

  13. Jennie says:

    Well said, Sue. It IS about how your writing makes others feel. Excellent post!

    Like

  14. If the story is compelling, the brain will look past the minor details, sometimes even providing the correction. The reader understands that, but the writer has the privilege and burden to see those errors in bold print, over and over. We are our own worst critic. Let go of the small stuff, it’s not what people will remember about your work.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      We do have the duty to do our best …and learn from the mistakes to do better. But yes… the content is what lingers in memory. I was reading a famous sci-fi author the other day…. a copy of a book I have read more times than I can remember… and only now noticed a major chunk of duplicated text.

      Liked by 1 person

  15. Jan Hawke says:

    Reblogged this on Jan Hawke INKorporated and commented:
    Ain’t this the truth… There’s a downside to everything of course – this is what forgiveness is all about. And learning to strive not to make the same mistakes again, because there are loads more new ones lining up to be made!
    Actually, strike that – some of the greatest things in life began because of mistakes or ‘accidents’. Hold out for eventual serendipity I says! 😉

    Liked by 2 people

  16. Those mistakes would drive me crazy. I can’t help it. I’d be that author you met. But, when I think back about the traditionally published books I’ve found typos in or that didn’t *quite* make sense 3/4 way through, I remember how much I enjoyed reading them. Really. Fab post. Also, those cartoons are awesome! 😂

    Like

  17. Reblogged this on Don Massenzio's Blog and commented:
    Enjoy these words of wisdom from Sue Vincent’s blog.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Sy says:

    This was an amazing read and made me think on the road ahead for myself. Thank you so much for sharing this!

    Like

  19. m Hembroff says:

    Thank you for sharing the lovely post. It was encouraging.

    Like

  20. jinlobify says:

    So true, Sue, and very insightful! It does need money to make a good soup/book! I do have to say that if one is not an editor or a proof reader, and writes what one thinks is a best seller, they should either go the orthodox way or let the story sleep. I have read some good stories that were so badly written they ended up ugly.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I have read a few books that were badly produced and written. WhiIe I agree that there is no substitute for professional editing services, not everyone can afford them and I do not think creativity should be stifled because of poverty.Even the badly written stories are someone’s vision and the beauty of digital publishing is that every voice can now be heard. If nothing else, this is opening the world for us to learn about each other and also providing a written social history to replace the journals and letters that we all used to write. Every story deserves a chance to be told.

      Liked by 1 person

  21. That is exactly the problem I have had with my book for many years, though lately, I’m beginning to recover. Maybe enough time has gone by that I can read it and see it as a book, not as an editorial essay in which i should have fixed the typos and made all those clunky passages smooth as silk.

    I also need to mention this to everyone, all of us, who write. If you keep fixing your book long enough, eventually you will make it perfect. And dull. It’s a hard thing to explain, yet we all know what I mean. Sometimes, it’s the clunky parts that make the book work, make it something special. We all need to recognize when we have made it as good as we can make it before we turn it into something else.

    Are we always going to feel insecure about the book and it’s lack of perfection? Yup. The thing is, though, perfection isn’t what great writing is about. I’m ALMOST ready to accept that. For everybody else’s book. Just … not mine 😀

    Liked by 1 person

    • Sue Vincent says:

      I like to get to know my writers when I read. Even those who are ‘invisible’ behind their characters…there is a tone, a particular flair, that lets you know who they are. Perfection erases the writer’s voice… though we should aim for it at least with spelling, punctuation and typos! We can try 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  22. True words, Sue, and nicely explained. The cartoons are so full of wit and sarcasm…:-D

    Like

  23. I can overlook the odd typo or error for anyone else but myself. I will the earth to open up and swallow me whole. o_O Yikes. This even happens in traditional publishing–it seems more and more.

    Like

    • Sue Vincent says:

      Yes, the older books do seem to have been produced with more attention to detail than is the norm today. A symptom of the paperback society perhaps, where books are affordable but ‘disposable’.

      Like

  24. Pingback: The writer’s rollercoaster | JUST WRITE IT!

  25. dgkaye says:

    Fabulous post Sue! All truth. Self publishing is a huge journey that we embark on, often without realizing just how much is capped under that title. Writing is the easy part. 🙂 ❤

    Like

  26. Ocean Bream says:

    I think, as a writer, one always seeks perfection.

    Like

  27. Pingback: Friday Fun: Napland! | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

  28. Pingback: Friday Fun: One for the Writers | ADD . . . and-so-much-more

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s