Monday, August 29, 2011

On self-doubt, bravado, and revision goggles

Happy Monday, everyone! I had a rather interesting weekend. I was thankfully spared the worst of Irene - the wind and rain was pretty intense, but my electricity hung in there the entire time. And in further good news, my very first editorial letter arrived on Friday night!


You guys. It's the best feedback I've ever gotten. You'd think a critique that clocks in around 2,500 words would be at least a little soul-crushing, but this letter pointed out the story's shortcomings in an extremely helpful and constructive way. This is the sort of critique I strive to write for others: one that does not discourage the writer, but makes them excited to press on.

So I jumped to work on my own set of notes. I brainstormed ways to implement the suggestions made, and I made a list of scenes to add and extend, of which there will be quite a few. The best part about these revisions is that I get to explore entirely new facets of the worldbuilding, mythology, and characters, and I'm already having so much fun thinking it all through.

There is, however, one thing I kept putting off all weekend: the first reread of the MS. Finally, I forced myself to look at the first page...

"Oh God. This is terrible."

The revision goggles are a fearsome thing. I know it can't be as bad as I'm making it out to be, but once I put those goggles on, everything seems wrong. It's like one of those sci-fi disaster movies where the grizzled scientist (played by Bill Pullman) looks at the man-made calamity and grits, "We can't stop it. It's self-sustaining now."

This is where the doubt sets in, through no one's fault but my own. At that moment, I felt the disconnect between what I want my work to be and what it is right now. Can I really make it as amazing as it needs to be to succeed?

For a lot of writers, this is the tricky part. We need some of that self-doubt to keep ourselves grounded. But in order to succeed, we also need a little action hero-style bravado. We need to recognize our shortcomings, but truly believe that somehow, we're going to conquer them. As daunting as challenges can be, they can also be pretty exciting, right?

So for the record: my manuscript, as it is, is not as awesome as I want it to be. But I'm going to make it awesome. I'm going to work hard, and I'm going to put in as much time as it takes. And no matter how this works out, I'm going to be better for it.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to set my cap at a jaunty angle and charge into battle. 

What challenges are you facing right now?


  1. I'm editing WIP number two, and, after doing revisions and sending them in on novel 1, I know just how daunting those revision goggles are. Especially if you're going to send those revisions to agents, and then editors, and then publishers! Right now I'm not as stressed about book two, because it's got a ways to go before I show it to anyone--but book one...well, I'm sure I'll have more revisions in the future! I applaud your courage, though: write on!

  2. Yay for the editorial letter!!! I've heard his are amazing, and I'm so excited for what your project's going to look like after you've implemented the suggestions.

    You already had a great hook, and with more world building... *dramatic sigh* It's going to be freaking awesome. I'll be the first person in line to buy this book when it's done.

    Carry on.

  3. Brenda - Eee, good luck! The revision goggles are indeed a formidable opponent.

    Katrina - (blush) Aww, you're so sweet! I shall work hard to make it as awesome as possible!