Sunday, February 26, 2012
Gaining Confidence as a Writer
I used to think things like, "Huh, my chapter turned out so much better than I thought it would. Lucky me. If I hadn't decided to write when I did on this particular day and time, and under these exact circumstances, this unique chapter couldn't have been written." In retrospect, I see I was crediting each success along the way to things beyond me. Because things like, I don't know, hard work and determination couldn't possibly have produced a good chapter. I did work hard. I busted my butt. But that couldn't be the reason why my chapters magically came together.
I remember reading interviews of published authors who said they threw out their WHOLE novels and started over again...sometimes more than once. That idea terrified me. I mean, I was fortunate in the first place to have produced a decent chapter, right? How could I toss it out, hoping luck would find me again? The odds weren't good.
I've been under the silly notion that cutting down my lengthy novel to the appropriate size would be a simple matter of hitting the delete key 40,000 times.
I just wrote a new chapter one. At least half of it was new material (that was the part I'd been dreading, but was actually fun); the other half was a maddening puzzle-piecing together of stuff I'd already written. When I finished, I'd reduced three long chapters to ten pages. And guess what? The new chapter is SO MUCH BETTER than what I'd written before.
I realized something: maybe, just maybe, this could do with a little person called me. Maybe I was a talented enough to make something shiny and new all over again--every time I determined to. It didn't have to be during a magical time of day or because the planets had aligned.
Now I'm not trying to diss that inspiration plays a big part in writing. We all have our muses and tricks to help set the mood. And I do credit my crit partners, my husband, and other readers for feedback that's helped me shape my story. But I finally realized I can rewrite something well...and take a little credit.
Mary Kole said on her website a few weeks ago, "Words are a renewable resource." That resonated with me, but also had me shaking in my boots. Was I capable of writing better than I had in the first place?
Yes I was. Yes I am.