This will not be a post on grammar.
It will, indeed, be a post on shit.
Aren’t you glad they haven’t invented scratch and sniff computers? 🙂
Okay, okay … seriously.
Over the last few weeks I’ve found myself stewing in a somewhat odd shift in my writing career. I’ve gone from writing with the hope that some day my work will be seen by others to revising with feedback from an editor who saw, liked, bought!!! and writing a new manuscript—with an option clause as the push to finish.
Most authors I know have, at some point or another (some more often than others), had that overwhelming flip-flop between loving what they’ve just produced and wondering if they need to adjust their medication.
I have subscription seats to the crazy, I-can-do-it/I-can’t-do-it show so none of this is technically new—or surprising. But I was not prepared for just how paralyzing it can become.
Knowing your shit
I can write a novel. I’ve written four. Two will likely never see daylight again but that’s not the point. Point is, writing a book. First words, saggy middle, the end. Once you realize you have that many words and word combinations and alternates to those words in you, you can write more books. And more books.
You take workshops and devour craft books. You write and rewrite, polish and buff those words until the writing gods shine on you and your crit partner/beta reader/agent/editor/cat wipes a tear from their eye and says it’s one of the best things they’ve ever read.
You know how to write a book. You know your shit!
Knowing you’re shit
Then one day, you’re armpit deep in revisions and everything stinks. You’re showered and even used deodorant so it’s obviously not you (you hope), but holy wow. How is it possible that you wrote something so awful? You write, delete, write, delete, change, change back. And the entire time, you’re absolutely convinced there is no possible way you can salvage this manuscript. Your editor will laugh at the revisions. Readers will hate every word you write.
Or it’s time to start a new project and there’s the cursor, winking at you from a blank document. Not a flirty, you-can-do-it wink but a cheeky, ‘sucker’ wink. That last manuscript must have drained the word-well dry.
Why did you ever think you could do this? You know—just know—that you’re shit!
Go back and look at the pile of words you’re working on or an old pile of words. Yup, you’ve written a novel. It may not be perfect yet, but it’s written. How many people do you know who haven’t even gotten that far?
Now reread something you wrote—a scene that stole your heart, feedback from a crit partner or agent/editor that gave you a warm fuzzy.
See, you really do know your shit.
And if you’re still stewing that you’re shit, print off the meme above and stick a pushpin in the apostrophe!
How do you change your perspective when you’re in a writing funk?
After years of pushing the creativity boundary in corporate communications, Orly decided it was time for a new challenge. Three women’s fiction manuscripts later (plus a handful of picture books), it’s safe to say she’s found her creative outlet. When she’s not talking to her imaginary friends, she’s reading or at least trying to ignore everyone around her long enough to finish “just one more paragraph.” Orly is the founding president of the Women’s Fiction Writers Association. She is rep’d by Marlene Stringer, Stringer Literary Agency LLC.
Orly’s debut novel, The Memory of Hoofbeats, will be released by Forge in 2017.