Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Does It Suck?

If I had a quarter for every time I've asked myself that about my manuscript, I'd probably have the equivalent of a publishing advance by now. Every day my opinion changes. One day, the words are flowing. I'm brilliant. Next day, I can't write my way out of a box. I suck.

Ever feel that way?

I know you do. I've read enough from and about other writers at this point to know my constant ebb and flow of self-consciousness is a widely shared neurosis. But somehow that doesn't make it easier to handle. Misery loves company, sure, and the online writing community is nothing if not a giant group therapy session. But when it comes down to it, writing's a solitary mission. I can hear others say they're struggling with these "does it suck?" moments too, but they're not looking at my manuscript.

It really might suck.
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I guess one explanation for this obsessive self-doubt is the lack of perspective you face when you stare at the same set of pages for months on end. As I work my way slowly ... so, so slowly ... through this massive pile of words, adding a clause here, cutting an adverb there, it's easy to lose the forest for the trees.
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I suppose that means I need to step back, get a grip, take a break. And sometimes I do. But it doesn't really change the fact that when I get back to editing, I still ride the see-saw of changing opinion. I'm working on getting this manuscript to a place where I feel comfortable handing it off to other writers. Writers who I know don't suck. If that's not standing naked in the middle of the high school gym during a pep rally, I don't know what is.
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Maybe the answer really is to find a support group. A friend of mine who's active in a local writing group invited me to a meeting, and I'm going this weekend. I think it might help me to talk to other writers face to face, to read other writers' work and, gulp, let them read mine.
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Any other advice? Is anybody else struggling with the "does it sucks" right now? If so, please share. Misery loves company, you know.
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Photo credit Xurble

5 comments:

  1. Yes. My WIP sucks today! I'm in the editing stage, and I don't waste my time in the chapters that don't suck. It can mess with your confidence to sit and stare at a scene you hate. Maybe I should rewrite the entire scene!

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  2. Yep, I face this all the time! My critique group is an excellent cure, but in the short term, I usually go to bed when I look at my writing with despair. It usually looks much better in the morning!

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  3. Well, at least I know it's not just me. Although I am sorry you guys struggle with this too! We writers really are a miserable (yet surprisingly fulfilled) little bunch. (I feel a future blog post coming on that little paradox....) ;)

    And Julie, I AM rewriting an entire scene right now - pretty much an entire section! I've hit the roughest spot in my rough draft. There are problems with plot, with character development, with writing sophistication - you name it.

    And Cheryl, yes, I agree that sometimes closing the document and going to sleep is the only answer. Actually, every time I sit down to write or edit, I can tell when I need to stop. I just lose that desperate feeling, you know what I mean? And then it's time to call it a night.

    Thank you for being such a great support group!!! :)

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  4. Stacey, great post. I find sometimes if I think something sucks and put it away for a while -- days, weeks -- and I come back to it, occasionally I'll see it's actually better than I thought, and it's easier to revise. We don't always have the luxury of time, though.

    I'm really glad you're joining a writer's group! That is on my to-do list, I'm envious someone invited you to one. I've got to go looking... !

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  5. Yes, I also face this challenge. If I had my way I'd lock everything I write in a box for ten years and then peek at it when I can review it more objectively. In the meantime I'll have to settle for sleeping on it as much as possible.

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