I talked about this a little here, but I want to go further into it today.
Back sometime in December – I’m not really sure when, but it was a few days after Christmas – I pulled out a first draft I had set aside for a few months. My fantasy novel Oh, Wonder Why the Sun Fell.
I WAS PUMPED.
I originally came up with the story when I was 12-ish (this is the first sign that something is going to go wrong), and I had rewritten it (re-thought it) for Nanowrimo 2017. (I finished it in the summer of 2018).
Now it was December. I had my night all planned out. I curled up on the couch, put Once Upon a Time on, had my notebook, pen, and my printed MS on my lap.
And I got to work.
I started out taking loads of notes, excitedly scribbling them all down. But as I continued reading through my MS, I slowly began taking fewer and fewer notes. I scanned chapters and sped right through to the end.
I set it down on my lap and looked up with one word, “Why?”
It. Was. Terrible. So bad I’m not even sure if I can fix it. Honestly, it was really disappointing. It basically just dumped a bucket of rain on my night. There were some really cool parts to the story, but overall – just why.
But ultimately, this is just part of the job description. This happens to every writer. We write something awful, something we don’t like. We become frustrated, disappointed, whatever. But what do we do afterwards?
First, resist that instinct to toss your work into the incinerator or feed it to your pet dragon. Why? Well, you may hate it now, but tomorrow you may see it differently.
But if you know it’s really, really, really bad, I guess you can chuck it in the fire.
BUT, a lot of times our stories can be salvaged, or bits can be ripped out and put into different stories. So, when it comes to writing, it’s OK to be a bit of a hoarder (including with books. And notebooks. And pens…)
Second: You’re NOT a terrible writer because you wrote something terrible.
I’m an apprentice with a ballet company. And guess what? We PROFESSIONAL dancers fall down (like I did this morning. Straight – to – the- floor). Same with writers. We write terrible things sometimes.
That’s just life. So move on.
Writing is basically just, “If at first you do not succeed, try, try again.” Why? Because not every idea you come up with is good (like when you look at your notebook the next morning and are just wondering what happens to your brain at midnight). Not every novel you write will be published. Not every story will be great.
That’s all OK. Just write another one, and another one, and another one until you get a good one.