Navel-Gazing

So, you write something. And it’s your baby. They’re your words, it’s your story, your world, and everything makes complete and utter sense in your head. It couldn’t be clearer if you tried.  So you save it and go on your merry way. A few months later, you come back to it, read it, edit it, and think that it’s still pretty damn awesome. Everything makes sense, and there’s no reason that it shouldn’t be on the NYTimes Bestseller List. In fact, it would be a crime for it to not be.

And then you start letting people see it. Quietly, you’re jumping up and down and shouting with glee in your head because you know, just know that they’re going to love it, want to read the rest of it, and then dedicate their lives to the cause of making sure your book is known. That’s how freaking awesome it is.  They read the first few pages, and then they turn to you.

That’s when you see it. The faintest glimmer in their eye, the one that says they’re about to tell you something you’re almost certain you don’t want to hear.  That glee inside you starts to fade. Then they start to speak and every word is like a spear through your chest.  You smile, thank them, and head home, all shriveled up inside.

A couple of days pass. “No!” you tell yourself. “Things are great! That’s just one person! They didn’t know what they were talking about!”

But for the sake of argument, you go back to it. You rewrite the beginning, because you can only make it awesomer.

Yet, as you write, those words come creeping back into your head. Oh, they’re not negative comments for the most part. They’re observations, they’re ‘well, this could be better’, they’re ‘well, does the story start here or not?’

That’s when you realize: they’re right.

The goddamn story doesn’t start where you’ve been starting it for the past two years.

And you know what? Without the help of fresh eyes, I’d never get to that point. I’ve been sitting here, staring at Burning Eden for ages. It doesn’t start with his father dying. It doesn’t start with him being disfigured. Nope. They’re interesting things that happened to him, that influenced him, and which can certainly be used as backstory during the actual story, but it’s not where it starts.

Am I happy with this knowledge? Not totally. Starting somewhere totally new means revamping the way it’s told. On the other hand, I really do think that it will tell the story better than the first goaround.

Moral of this particular story: other people rock.

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3 Comments

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3 responses to “Navel-Gazing

  1. irseriouswriter

    Last year, I wrote a short story. Last week I pulled it out, rewrote most of it, edited it, and handed it to my wife. I was excited and anxious at the same time. When she finally got to it a day later, she took her red pen and sacrificed it to some heathen god…

    She was afraid to hurt my feelings, since she is a trained reader, able to pick something apart with ease. But, she also could tell me what to do to make it work. She would have hurt my feelings more had she not been completely honest.

    From her, I got harsh criticism. I also got good advice and pointers. My 8 page 2k word short story is now back on the editing table, and I couldn’t thank her more for pointing out my stupid mistakes, and for also pointing out the bits of my story that made it awesome.

    Yes, other people rock.

  2. I just finished editing a dialogue I wrote for an anthology. I really loved it the first time I sent it to the editor. She did too, BUT. And there’s always that BUT. And even though she loved it, all I could hear was the BUT, until I had calmed down a little.

    Getting someone elses point of view is always worth the while, even though it might hurt at first.

  3. Bri

    I wrote a story (yes, a fanfiction) that was about 2,500 words long just the other week. I left it alone for a bit, came back to, reread it, deemed it the deepest and potentially awesomest fanfiction I’ve ever read. Posted it online, and guess how many reviews it got?

    0. people are barely clicking on it. It’s not interesting sounding, even with a wicked deep summary.

    But that’s the point – it’s not to the majority of those who scroll upon it, but I’M satisfied with it. I’m IMPRESSED with it. I think it’s a work of art, dang it! and that’s the most important part. Even if your story isn’t ever published, that’s okay.

    Do you want to know why?

    Because it all depends on the publisher you send them to, their mood, etc. And face it – “Twilight” got published. I’m not sure where I’m going with this rant, but eventually, you’re going to get to a point where you don’t want to change the story anymore, and that’s OKAY. In the end, you want to please yourself, and the readers will find you, not the other way around.

    this comment does not make any sense, and I am thoroughly irked by my shift button not working properly, grrr…

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