Have you ever written an essay for high school, or worked hard to finish a paper for college? I bet you’ve done one or both and received feedback that you didn’t like. That negative feedback often (not always) pushes us to learn from our mistakes and create something better next time. You might blame your teacher for how you’re feeling (crummy, let’s bury our head in a pint of ice cream), but your teacher is just relaying the facts. Putting words together is a skill. This kind of skill isn’t meant to be easy. I posit that if writing were easy, its value would be significantly decreased. As it is, reading is starting to seem like a disappearing act. I’m grateful for everyone who still picks up a device, looks at a screen, or blows the dust off a book and scans their eyes over words!
My own books and stories have gone through a similar arc over the years. I’ve gotten feedback from my editor when my writing is particularly shitty. There’s a vehemence about how bad it is. Luckily this occurs because my editor believes in my writing prowess and knows when I’m phoning it in. My fingers practically fly over the keyboard and when I’m just downloading the raw bits and pieces of a scene or a whole chapter, I (being the human that I am) leave significant parts out. I change the way a character would do, say, or react in a situation that’s not to be believed. I don’t do this consciously. This simple faux pas comes down to my not being truly present with the material. I’m so intrigued by the scene, or I’m so rushed by my ‘need to get the word-count’, I lose sight of the real picture. In other words, I don’t take my time. When that happens, the words lose their meaning and the whole train comes to a crawling, lumbering slow-down.
With the 3rd book in the Owen Hunter Series, that has happened over the last two years. I’m doing everything in my power to go back over the manuscript I originally thought was brilliant, leading to a perfect conclusion, and am having to see how I botched it. In my need to rush through, I made things much worse. The new manuscript is taking shape.
In the years since I launched into my writing career, being green, not knowing how this whole thing worked, I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned how to be patient with feedback and take it to heart. There’s no easy way to admit when you’re wrong, just dead wrong. I’ve had to do that and go back to the drawing (writing) board often. It’s a character building experience. The more you write, the better you get (in theory), and the more you stay focused on the structure, the easier it is to not make so many mistakes in the first place.
Speaking of taking shape, I’ve also learned an enormous amount about making my own book covers. I’ve designed and redesigned them over the years and there’s been an evolution. At first, I relied on the talents of people I paid. Recently I hit a new level of understanding in design (thanks to the help of people over at kboards, with keen eyes, and generous feedback) and have taken that to new levels. I’m going to work hard to continue taking artwork (in written and visual form) to new levels.
I’ll keep you up to date as I get nearer to pushing the publish buttons on the 3rd and final installment of the Owen Hunter Series PREVAIL. And keep a lookout for my new book The Wizard & The Jewel due to be out late summer or mid-Autumn.