On revising

I started this blog in order to write about my novel & the novel-writing process, and maybe to even get a little feedback, but when I sit down to put together a post I feel very exposed. I don’t like working in a vacuum, but I’m also frequently averse to sharing my work outside a select subset of people. So much of my identity is wrapped up in my creative projects that I fear criticism of the project as though it were criticism of me. I know in my head this is not the case, but emotion is ruled by the heart and the stomach.

My novel is deep in the revisions stage. I work on it in fits and starts. When I get feedback from friends or editor-types I tend to go on a rampage of editing. When I feel good about the writing, I go on a rampage of editing. When I feel like my writing is dumb, I avoid it. Right now I’m avoiding it.

It’s a bit of a a vicious circle, either in the positive or negative sense.

Do you have a source of feedback for your writing? How do you avoid that scary exposed feeling? What do you do when you feel like your writing is dumb? How long do you spend on a post before hitting that publish button? Do you revise posts after you publish them?

5 thoughts on “On revising

  1. I read once, make a couple of changes and hit that button ! ( actually I send it to the other half of our blog and she publishes it!) 😃🐻

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m fortunate in a way that my job exposes me to public criticism on a daily basis, some of it valid, some ridiculous (I once had to respond to a letter complaining about how I pronounced my own name). I say “fortunate” because it cured me of an older habit of not putting myself forward for fear of reprimand or even opprobrium. After a very short while criticism became just more background noise. I developed enough psychic barding that it never penetrated.

    By the time I started blogging then, I was so used to ignoring criticisms that I wrote without any care at all for whatever a reader might think. That might sound callous, but I’ve found that, rather perversely, it actually leads to better writing and therefor happier readers (or so I like to think, egomaniac that I am). When I try to cater to some imagined audience I can tell my prose becomes more stilted and “fake”. Without the fetter of caring, everything improves.

    So if I may be so bold as to give you some professional advice, gleaned from now 28 years of being in the public eye (well, ears): people are going to complain no matter what. You’ll only drive yourself crazy, and your work will suffer, if you attempt to avoid criticism. It’s like yelling at the tide not to come in, it just ain’t gonna happen.

    Here’s what I suggest:

    Write as if you are the only one who will ever see it. Then go back and correct any grammar errors or grievous omissions. Then, and this is the most important step…get drunk. When sufficiently sloshed, to the point where you just don’t care about anything, hit “Enter” and send your baby out into the world. (Quick caveat: probably not a good idea if you are writing non-fiction. On the other hand…nah, never mind, it’s probably not.) When critical comments come in…get drunk again, and laugh at them. Repeat until it all becomes ingrained, and then you can do it without drinking! (Although I’m not sure why you’d want to, Ms. Hemmingway 😉 )

    And now, I await your criticism of my comment. Sober.

    Good luck 🙂

    Like

    • This is all good advice 🙂

      I have thought about using a pen name to reduce the fetter of caring (great phrase), but it doesn’t help; I feel like people will see right through my pen names. So, I might as well write as myself. Also, I find it confusing to maintain alternative identities!

      I agree with you that not caring enhances the writing quality. In fact, not caring (to a degree) enhances many life activities!

      Liked by 1 person

      • You give people too much credit if you think they’re astute enough to see through a pseudonymous charade 😉 But hey, whatever works for you!

        And yes, much of life should be lived as if you weren’t being judged. Go get ’em, sister!

        Liked by 1 person

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