I’ve often heard actors say they can’t bear to watch themselves on-screen, that they see every flaw; every perceived error in their own production. It makes me wonder how many other artists say the same thing. I’m sure there are authors among us who fear the prospect of reading their own work, once it reaches publication. Once the editing part is over, it can be a dangerous thing to go through it again – you will always find something to improve on. I know I’m not the only one who feels that way.
I recently read a wonderful poem on a friend’s blog (Callum McLaughlin); it’s worth reading, so click here to check it out. The poem spoke to me in a number of ways, but mainly I thought about the hard truths I’ve had to face recently about my own writing.
When I look back at the Conduit, the first book I published, as well as celebrating the achievement, I can’t help but feel the disappointment. I published it too early, tore it apart so many times that in the end, the story wasn’t as strong as it could have been. I learnt from my mistakes and the Missing Link is what The Conduit should have been. I remember the passion I felt when I was writing it, and then the number of times I changed it. Each time I weakened it.
Sins of the Father is one I’m particularly proud of, but I can still accept the mistakes I made along the way. Though people enjoy the book, and feedback has been good, I can’t get away from the fact it is a little on the complicated side. The lesson I learnt in that respect was to choose my beta readers wisely and to take a step back. I did so for Hands of Evil, which comes out at the end of July and I’m glad I had the opportunity. There are still more characters than some of my readers would like, but the fact they enjoyed it and wouldn’t change it, is a good thing. I wonder how it will feel to read it once the finished product is in my hand. Will I be able to read it objectively?
Less is more, I guess. I certainly appreciate the value of that since getting feedback for Addy’s Choice (under my pseudonym Nat Hobson). I wrote the romance novel after gaining feedback on a short story, and because the characters had decided they wanted a much bigger role! I didn’t expect it to be a favourite among readers who enjoy my work, but there lies another lesson.
I know as writers we can be over-critical of our work, but I’m not sure I can ever look back and be one hundred percent happy. I can see the strengths and should learn to focus on those, to take the flaws and work at them.
Am I being too hard on myself I wonder? Should I even be sharing this, since there is a danger of losing readers in the face of such honesty?
How about you? How does it feel when you look back at your earlier work. Can you turn off the inner editor who wants to get their hands on it again, no matter how hard you worked?
Thanks for reading.