Monday, October 08, 2007

A Great Big Piece of Gray Dough, part 2 or Does it really stink, or is it just me?

Here’s a question I wish I had asked Debra Webb when she spoke at the September Southern Magic meeting: Do you know? I mean, really know? When you finish a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter, a book -- do you know that it’s great, that your editor and the public are going to buy it and love it?

Because right now, I look at what I write, and I know it’s crap. Yet the manuscript has finaled in some contests, won one, and the judges’ comments have been overwhelmingly positive.

So I’m sitting here going “Maybe it’s me. Maybe, as Carla and Christy commented on part 1 of this blog, I’m just my own worst critic.”

Crime novelist G.M. Ford said this in an interview: “I'll tell you the truth: I teach a class at the [University of Washington] on mystery writing, and the first thing I tell my students is that, for the most part, writers succeed by conquering self-doubt. It isn't so much about talent or any of that other [garbage], it's about the temerity to start [a book] and the tenacity to follow it through.

Then, once you've started, the self-doubt really begins to flow. And then you get about halfway through, and you're picturing the castle scene in Frankenstein, where they come for you with rakes and torture instruments. [He laughs.] I go through this every time I write a book. About a month after I finish it, I sit there and I think, God, you've written the worst book ever in the history of mankind. And then I turn it in, and people love it, and I'm convinced again that there's no literary taste in America.”

I wonder, do most multi-published authors feel this way?

See http://www.januarymagazine.com/profiles/gmford.html for the whole interview. Thanks to JoAnn Ross for posting this on her loop.

1 comment:

Christy Reece said...

I usually get to about page 100 and get stuck. Then, I struggle for about another hundred pages, telling myself every word is the wrong one. When I'm almost through, I begin to feel pretty good, then just as I'm knocking on the door of 'the end', I start to question everything again.

My only advice is for you to write without questioning yourself. Let your imagination take flight and tell that irritating internal editor to take a hike. She can come back when you're though.

You've won and finaled in contests, JoAnn. You are so much better than you give yourself credit for.