Friday, April 8, 2011

Super Models and Writing Disorders

Pic from this website

You know how some people look at super models in magazines or on billboards after all their revisions and touch-ups and think, "I'll never look like that!" and then they go about beating themselves up with eating disorders and negative self talk??

Well, writers can fall into that same trap. We all know we should be reading the genre in which we're writing. It helps us see what's out there in the market and how western steampunk generally handles anachronistic technology, what color the rivets on that cow-bot should be, etc. It's important to read published and widely successful novels in your genre.

But!

I've realized lately it's easy for me to read New York Times bestsellers and feel like the misshapen, pimply girl I sometimes felt like after flipping through the pages of Cosmo.

So I just wanted to remind everyone, including myself, that your first draft is not going to shine like the umpteenth draft of a published author. Remember that the amazing published authors you read have had a long list of people read and criticize their work while it was in ugly preteen phase. Family members, critique partners, beta readers, their agents, and then editors (with whom it goes through a few more rounds of edits before it's actually published). We're talking about major airbrushing here.  

Through hard work and revisions, we can improve that first draft... a lot. But it's not going to happen overnight any more than acne is cured overnight. So today's public service announcement?

Be patient with yourself. Be patient with your book. Ugly ducklings can become swans, and the magic is in revision.

11 comments:

  1. I get a little bipolar about my novels. At first it's love, love, love. Then, all of a sudden, I'll read something that makes me second-guess myself.

    We can't be anything but ourselves, and we'd save a lot of angst if we'd realize this. Such is the human condition, is it not? We want what we can't have, we don't want what we have, and the grass is always greener when someone else is using Miracle Grow regularly and sprays for pests.

    Thanks for this post. We could all use a reminder every now and again!

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  2. I like what you said. It's very true. I also like Tere's comment. I can be extremely bipolar about my work.

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  3. I never thought of this way before, but you make quite a good point! I often feel inferior when I read books in my genre and out of it, and then it just screws with my writing, because I start to strive to be something I'm not. Be true to yourself!

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  4. Great post! I have to admit, I turn very green sometimes--and that's not a good color on me. :) I work hard everyday to just focus on my work, and applaud the success of my peers.

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  5. Yes, I've definitely had that sinking feeling of simultaneously loving something I'm ready and feeling full of despair that I'll never write anything that good.

    Then you have to just keep writing.

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  6. Really great analogy. I always hate it when I read an interview with a super model and she talks about how she eats burgers and pizza and loves junk food because what she's leaving out is the hours with the personal trainer spent working that off and the 900-calorie diet delivered to her door the other 95% of the time. Same with writers who talk about how lucky they are and how the words just flow. For 1%, it's true, but reading those stories can make you forget that even the most successful writers write whole pages, even whole novels, that they (wisely) delete and sometimes they really do spend hours on Twitter #procrastinating because there's nothing "flowing".

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  7. thank you ... permission to write an ugly first draft accepted.
    xx

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  8. Great entry and message - I totally agree! :D

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  9. And here I thought I was waaaay out of the awkward teenage years. Not I'm in the midst of the awkward writing years. Aaack!

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  10. Love this! And I'm glad I'm not the only one bipolar about my books (and art, btw).

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