That, my friend, is a loaded question with one simple answer...
I've been having a spirited e-mail discussion lately with a talented writer whose work I've taken far too long to finish Beta reading.
|My writing is imperfect! Therefore, I am worthless. |
Photo by andi.
This writer is very thin skinned. She tends to equate "This doesn't work for me" with "You are a worthless, talentless hack." She is not alone.
|What do you mean REWRITE?! |
Photo by Rupert Jefferies
I don't mean they need handled with kid gloves. But there comes a point during the litany of "here's where this goes astray" and "this whole section needs reworking" where their eyes glaze over and all they want to hear is, "This has merit. Keep going."
Without exception, my answer is: The project has merit as long as you can remain passionate about it. Because, I hate to tell ya, sweetheart, you're gonna re-write it a bazillion times before it's finished.
If you think that's a Bad Thing -- if the thought of rewriting your precious prose makes you want to crawl in a hole and lament the end of your creative dreams -- then perhaps it is time to rethink the whole Writer-as-Career-Choice decision.
|I'll stay here. And my book will stay on my hard drive.|
Photo by Scott Liddell
'Cause, frankly, that's ALL it takes.
No one is born knowing how to put words together. No one instinctively understands plotting, or dialogue, or subtext, or character arcs. No one pops out of the womb with an innate grasp of imagery. Or poetry. Or knowing when to use "whose" and when to use "who's." Everyone who wants to write has to learn all that stuff -- and more.
Writing is a craft. It's a learned skill. Any time you find yourself thinking "I don't have the chops for this," what you really mean is "I need to expand my skill set."
|No, dammit! Every word must stay! |
Photo by Scott Liddell.
This I see as a *good* thing. Because, in all honesty, the story is as good as I can make it on my own. The script has done well in contests. I've polished it to make it as shiny as I know how. But that doesn't mean it's perfect.
He gingerly approached the subject of reworking several aspects of the story. At one point, I cut to the chase and said, "You don't have to worry about hurting my feelings. If you have suggestions for improving the script, I'm all ears. Give me notes and let's talk."
He literally sighed with relief. Evidently, he was afraid I was going to be one of "those" writers who approaches rewrites with all the excited anticipation of a colonoscopy.
Want to know if you've got what it takes to be a writer? Put yourself in the editor's / producer's / publisher's shoes. Imagine going to you with suggestions for improving your piece. Now imagine your reaction. Then ask: "Could I work with me?"
If the answer is "yes," there you have it. You've got what it takes.
Now get out there! Show your work to people. Invite criticism from people whose opinions you trust. Weed through the comments for the recurring themes. Then roll up your sleeves and get to work!
All photos from www.morguefile.com.