Okay, so I’ve been in a slump for a long time now. Like many bloggers, I’m writing my own novel. It’s hard, but I’ve managed to get 90,000 words out, and a lot of it I was really proud of.
I made a HUGE mistake, and started a conversation with another writer who has completely different tastes. He gave me a piece of his book and asked for a piece of mine. He was friendly and nice, but I knew he wouldn’t like whatever I gave him, and stressed so much about how to avoid it.
I told him I couldn’t give him the beginning, because it wasn’t done. He said that was fine, just give him something in the middle.
I told him that I haven’t edited anything yet. I want to get my story out and then work out the kinks. He said his wasn’t edited either, and he wouldn’t judge.
I told him he probably wouldn’t like it, since it’s kinda of sci-fi-y romance and he’s more interested in hardcore badassery, which my book has very little of. He told me to just send it already.
So I searched through my files for something he might appreciate, and with every passing chapter I felt more and more like a loser of a writer. Not only would he not like it, but did I even like it? I thought about my friends. None of them would like it. Neither would my family, or the coworkers I promised it to when it was complete. That’s when the thought popped into my head: I’ve written ninety THOUSAND words of crap.
For weeks after that instance (he was nice, but it was obvious that he hated it) I literally- not even kidding- winced out loud whenever I thought about my book. I did this often, and people would actually catch me and ask what was up, but how can you explain a disappointment like that? Something that I had once poured so much excitement and so many hopes into was now causing me to feel so embarrassed it hurt. Every time I thought about it- the thing that used to keep me up with jittery thoughts and happy considerations- it was like a new pain. Like someone who had been looking forward to a vacation for months so that it was ingrained into their thoughts, only to have it canceled at the last minute. Every time you remember the joy of it, you have the surprise of remembering it’s no longer a good thing.
In short, I was crushed.
I had some small encouragements from the online community: people from NaNoWriMo telling me not to give up when I explained to them I could no longer add to my word count, bloggers that shared insight about what it takes to finish a story, but although those things made me feel better, nothing made me feel like it was worth it. Like my story was worth anything. It took an article from another author who had been through the failure boat for me to start to look up.
Basically, everyone has their hardships and everyone has moments where they believe they can’t do it. I knew from the start that one guy not liking my book doesn’t mean it’s bad, but for the first time I was realizing how little these thoughts really mattered. Looking at my story from someone else’s perspective is- of course- going to make me hate it. So it’s time to remember I’m supposed to be looking at it from my perspective. I am reacquainting myself with my story and everything I loved about it- the big reveals, the small connections, the insight of my characters, and I’m going to finish this book.
In writing, you are always going to hit bumps in the road. Whether it’s writer’s block or fear of failure or worrying that no one else will like it, but I’ve realized the only one that needs to like my book is me. Keep writing. Finish your book, edit your book, love your book. There are a million people in the world with a million different tastes, and I guarantee you, at least one of them will adore your book as much as you do. And for me, that’s enough to keep at it.
It may be 90,000 words of crap to someone else, but to me, it’s 90,000 words of MY crap. And I can love it for that.