Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Insecure? If it were just that...



It’s time once again to send our fears and insecurities out into the world. If you haven’t yet, be sure to visit the Ninja Captain and join up on the linky.

I know this is about insecurities, but I wanted to talk about the opposite effect today: delusions of adequacy. Recently, I did something that has made me really annoyed with myself.

So, I paid someone for a critique. I knew that the work wasn’t really at the point where a critique would do it much good. I knew that what it needed more than anything else was for those early chapters to be rewritten. I knew this. And yet, I ponyed up my money and paid someone to read chapters that needed to be rewritten from scratch.

And you know what the editor said?

The editor said that the chapters needed an absolute overhaul, maybe even a rewrite.

Even knowing beyond a doubt that it needed work, I thought that somehow I could bamboozle this editor into liking my stuff. Nope. In fact, pretty much every comment was “This could be good, but currently, it—ah, how do I say this nicely?—isn’t good at all. Great voice though. And the humor is fantastic, but the XY and Z are just killing me.”

And I knew about the XY and Z. Like it was the one thing everyone has already commented on. I knew about it, and yet I sort of thought this editor would just gloss right over that, or maybe say “Oh my goethite*! This is a revolutionary way of writing! I wonder why no one has ever written like this before!” (hint: they have, it just sucked for them too!). I sent off some flawed chapters, and I expected to be told they were awesome. At least adequate.

There’s a saying where I grew up that sort of applies here: You plant peas; you get peas.

It means don’t go rootin’ around the asparagus patch looking for some bell peppers. That’s not where you planted them (you did get them out of the package, right?). In my home town that saying is meant to basically call someone an idiot for not thinking.

I got some really great feedback, and for the record, I’d utilize this particular editor again in a heartbeat. Mostly, I’m just annoyed at myself for thinking the bad parts would just go away while I worked on other stuff. I mean really, did I think faeries would just fly in and make everything better while I wasn’t looking?

Anyone else with this particular problem, or am I the only one wearing the dunce’s cap in the corner?

P.S. The editor kindly offered rereads for half the cost. Like I said, editor=awesome.

*goethite is pronounced grrrrrrrr-tight, it’s a mineral of some economic importance.

35 comments:

  1. I've been caught in the trap of thinking that actually what I've written is genius rather than bad. It happens to us all, but - big BUT - you knew they were bad, so therefore you are a genius, just an impatient one :-) Good luck with the rewrites, and I hope the next critique is better.

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    1. Yes, I am impatient, and you totally made me smile. And I know the next critique will be better--it could hardly be worse!

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  2. I think everybody does this at one time or another. Like sending out the PERFECT book to crit partners when I just finished writing "the end."

    Lauren
    lauren-ritz.blogspot.com

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    1. Oh boy, yeah, I've totally done that. I'm glad I recovered from that instance before I sent it to every editor in the world... it was a close thing.

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  3. Yep - I've submitted stories that aren't really ready. What gets into us? Maybe it's a case of needing confirmation that we're at least on the right path - and of course, that miraculous "Goethite!" reaction is always in the back of our mind! Live and learn, eh?

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    1. Yup, live and learn. I think the real problem is that the difference between ready for prime time and absolutely not there yet can sometimes be hard to see...

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  4. Yes! I wish it were just me and no one else notices. Which is why I learned to go with my gut. If you feel somethings wrong, it probably is. =)

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    1. Oh man, if only we could get everyone else to just not notice those silly flaws. Aw well, that's why we edit, right? (I just wish I had the same drive to edit as to write first drafts!)

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  5. I always worry that I suffer from that delusion all the time...only I worry that unlike you, I'm clueless about it.

    I hold my breath anytime someone says, "I read your books." Always a little afraid I sent them out into the world too soon.

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    1. YES! I totally hold my breath when someone says "I read your book." Sometimes, it's good... sometimes I go to a special cave I built under my writing desk. I pretend like it'll protect me from nuclear feedback in the same way that my desk would save me from actual nuclear attack (like they taught us to do in school).

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  6. Ha! I think we've all done this. I know I've written stuff thinking "no one will notice" and you know what? They always notice. Sucks, big-time!

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    1. They always notice! Always. It's like the one time people get really observant.

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  7. The thing is that sometimes you just need that outside perspective... which it's too bad you had to pay for... but you'll get there!

    That *face/palm* moment is exactly why I'm still hiding my novel in a file deep deep deep down at the bottom of my computer... who knows when it will ever see the light of day? It's absolutely not ready for anyone to see yet (maybe ever?). :) Or you could just call me chicken.

    Good for you for being brave enough to show your chapters to someone!

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    1. True, that outside perspective can be crucial. I had been on the fence about one aspect, and after the crit, I know much better what I should do about it.

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  8. My only advice is that you should be using a plethora of critique partners instead of paying an editor. You will learn way more from the feedback from your peers, and if you use a wide spectrum of CPs, so will your knowledge base become. You shouldn't never have to pay for a critique. Just my 2 cents.

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    1. Yes, and very excellent advice about the CPs. What I wanted from this particular critique was perspective from someone who didn't know me. The MC in that piece is very similar to myself, so I wanted someone who didn't know me at all to read it and be able to evaluate the MC on her own merits.

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  9. Hey,

    Three years ago I signed with an agent for this current project - but it was a complete disaster. I wasn't ready, WIP wasn't ready and the agent had ideas of his own.

    I really thoughr I was "on my way" but all I did was pick my peas way too early :)

    Now WIP#1 is done, and I'm ready to stand behind it again :)

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    1. That is so awesome, Mark. I just finished rewriting a book that I'd queried back in the day, and now I am so thankful that it didn't get picked up. I can only imagine how hard that would be.

      And good luck with WIP#1 I'm sure it'll rock our socks off!

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  10. Oh you made me smile when you say did you think faeries would fly in. We've all done that I think. But you knew it needed work. Sometimes we just need to hear it from somebody else!

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    1. I stole the faeries bit from Neil Gaiman, but I'm sure everyone gets the idea (especially since it used to actually be thought that that's sort of how it goes!).

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  11. I love this post. I have so done this. I think most of us have, but we don't want to admit it until someone else admits to it first!

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    1. I'm finding this to be a pretty universal problem. Well, live and learn.

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  12. Oh, I've so been there. Thinking the end of my WIP would just magically come together and like, work itself out while I moved on to other projects.

    Wait, it's where I am now.

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    1. YES! The "If I wait long enough it will magically work out in my head." I've decided that the blithely waiting for inspiration is about as helpful as looking at the ceiling when you don't have the answers on the tests. Cest la vie

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  13. Great post today! I also have a tendency to get ahead of myself. It's irritating, but survivable. Great IWSG posting!

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    1. Thanks! And yes, it is survivable, so long as I learn from my mistake!!!

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  14. silly scientist, tricks are for amateurs!
    brilliant as you are, some conformity is necessary. only a select few would appreciate it as is. i learned that too =)

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    1. Ah man, and don't I know it. I'm always looking for tricks. Like maybe if I enter this contest, I'll be discovered by Agent Awesome, she'll love my manuscript, and by next week I'll have a six figure contract with a big five.

      The only path is through laboriously butt in chair time.

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  15. Aww, Rena, I'm giving you a long cyber hug, right now. Can ya feel it? Good. Better? Okay, guess what? I've done the exact same thing, lol. I'm still scratching my head over it. If nothing else, it made me honest w/myself about my writing. Now, if it's still in the suckish stage, I don't want nobody seeing it. I'm glad your editor was at least good. Mine, not so much. Lesson, learned, chin up. :)

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    1. Thank you, Celeste. I'm sorry that your editor wasn't that good. Mine wasn't even that expensive (comparatively) but still had fantastic feedback, at least on the parts that weren't "ummm, you should like, rewrite this. And maybe check out how to use a hyphen."

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  16. I've never sent work in to paid editors for critiques, but my first exposure to critque groups was an eye opener - in many ways - like your experience here. I hope you were spared such comments as "that was a complete waste of five pages." I was tempted to quite right then, but you know what? I took it as a challenge and I think my writing has since improved. You and anyone else in your shoes can too. :)

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    1. Oh David, I'm right there with you on the first critique group thing, holy krakatoa! My first critique group was an unmitigated disaster with no one (myself included) knowing how to give any kind of feedback. In that early group someone said that my novel was "too amateurish to provide feedback on."

      It did not go well.


      And it was a pretty amateurish novel, this one was a million times better.

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  17. Wow. Goes to show you don't need to pay someone to know you're right!

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  18. I don't know if I've necessarily thought certain aspects of my story were actually 'good' but it was more something like: 'this doesn't work but I don't know how to fix it ...' or 'is it good and I can't fix it because it ain't broke?'
    Letting someone check it out, and tell me, 'yup, it's broke,' ended up being the impetus I needed to start coming up with solutions.
    You're lucky to have found an editor who's affordable and sensible!

    And, thanks for the educational nugget on 'goethite.' I didn't know that was a real mineral! Love it. :)

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  19. Awh that's tough, but maybe its just what you needed to dig right in and do the rewrites. Good luck I know you can get it to where you want it.

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