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Thursday, March 12, 2009

What holds you back? Or better yet…What has pushed you forward?

First off I want to say thank you for being invited to You Gotta Read – what a great blog!

I was a little worried about what to write. You see I have an opinion on just about everything, but when it comes to writing, I wait for the voices in my head to start talking. This is different, I was asked to write on demand…but bear with me I’ll get there. ;-)

I’m an aspiring writer who is classified as a PRO. I’ve had two rejections, on two different stories. Yep, that’s it – just two. I consider myself an anal retentive perfectionist (ARP). By this, what I mean is, I received the rejections and wondered what it could have been that these works were rejected for. So I analyze, and then analyze again – which really means I write and re-write again.

Sure we’ve all done it, if, there was a critique involved. But one of those rejections was on a query only! And the other was a form letter rejection! So what does this tell you….

I don’t have total faith in myself as a writer. Ask me anything about my day job and we have no problems. I do corporate writing on a daily basis and even stand up in front of large groups of strangers to explain it.

So why you ask, not writing?

As a writer, I know the bones of the story are there, the concept I feel is unique, my voice is strong. But, here’s the kicker – is my voice strong enough? Are the characters believable? Is there enough white space? Is there too much white space? Is the tension strong? Have I given too much back story? Rules, everywhere there are rules…argggg.

Sound familiar to anyone?

Yep, I’m too much in my own head, questioning the work, because when it comes right down to it…this is my baby. I’ve nurtured it, loved it, changed it and burped it. And in the process, I’ve laughed, cried, been puked on…and well you get the picture. ;-)

I’m learning this the hard way. You can have faith in your work, but your work won’t stand a chance unless you have faith in yourself.

Quite the hypothesis huh?

I am of the opinion that by finding the right critique partner, mentor, and beta reader (oh yes, and a very supportive husband) my work is better than it’s ever been. And most of them understand my ARP side. ☺ I believe that with all my heart and thank them for it as well. Because without these people gently pushing me forward I would continue to question my work to its death.

Soon I will be sending my work out – because I’ve learned, there is such a thing as too much editing, too much re-reading, and too much re-writing. That’s my story, and I’m not re-writing it!!! ;-)

What holds you back? Or better yet…What has pushed you forward?


Barton Paul Levenson said...

I think the point about feedback is a crucial one. I am a much, much better writer than I used to be largely because of the feedback I've gotten from my writers' workshop, the Pittsburgh Worldwrights. If you're not in such a group, preferably using the Clarion method, find one!

(The Clarion method refers to handing out copies of the work to be critiqued, a short story or chapters of a novel, giving people two weeks to read it, or however long goes by between meetings, and then having them go around the circle and read their critiques at the next meeting. During critique reading the author has to be quiet and listen, and can't talk unless the critiquer asks a question. It works wonderfully well.)

The advantage of a group is that you have a better idea of what is and is not working. Feedback from one person could be idiosyncratic, but if eight people in your ten-person critique group say chapter 2 is obscure, you'd better read through chapter 2 and try to make it clearer. As the author, you are always free to accept or reject critique advice, but hearing the same complaint from several people can give you guidance as to what really needs to be changed.

LKap said...

Barton -
Excellent point. I have a wonderful chapter TARA - Tampa Area Chapter and I couldn't have gotten this far in my dream withou them or a fabulous CP to help.
Thanks for stopping by

Vicki said...

LKap, love this post!!! The funny thing is the journey we take isn't all about the hands on keyboard thing. Sure, unless you do that, the journey of writing is...well, pointless. But there are other things to learn and you've done an amazing job of learning them.

I'm really excited to know you're going to start submitting (sometime in the future, when you're ready), not going to push you (well, not too hard...heehee), on that one.

Brandy W said...

The thing that holds me back in my personal writing is not knowing how to start or if there are rules that I should follow even though it is personal.

LKap said...

Vicki - Sure you're not going to push ;-*

Brandy - Just start!!! There are a lot of people out there willing to help make it right, but you can't fix a blank page ;-)

LKap said...

I want to thank everyone here at You gotta Read for having me - it was great fun to do and I was honored to be asked.

I was also told, I should clarify that the one form letter rejection I did receive made it all the way to the aquiring editor - which is why I looked so hard at re-writing that piece.

I'm heading off into my writing cave and not sure if I'll make it back tonight so I wanted to give a shout out.

Thanks again!