Lou: I would like to welcome Julie back to The Book Pushers . If any of you missed it, here is Julie’s first guest post.
(Apologies to readers for the delay in getting this second installment up. Life, as it so often does, happened and put everything on hold. I will endeavor to be more consistent from now on.)
When I finally started writing again, I was really excited by this project I had in mind about how the “coming out” of supernaturals completely destroys one girl’s life. The first time I sat down to write though, ten pages proved such a battle that the doubts began creeping back. I couldn’t do it. I was a talentless hack.
Then I read what I’d written and cried. It was worse than I’d thought. Too many years spent writing poems, term papers, and science exams had stolen my ability to write a story. Instead I’d written the beginning of a report on the book I wanted to craft.
I gave up, convinced that the nay-sayers had been right all along.
Then something remarkable happened. The couple people I’d stupidly shared my disaster with asked when they’d get more. It was crap! It was beyond crap! Why would they want more?
So, with fear in my heart, I re-read it and ended up excited about the story again. There were no delusions about the pages before me though. I didn’t exactly crumple up the original and toss it, but I did start over. I plowed ahead, my faith renewed.
That happened shortly before I discovered Kelley Armstrong’s novels and joined her internet forum. And blessing of blessings, at the bottom of the list of forums was an online writing group. Still nervous about whether or not I had an ounce of talent anywhere in my body, I held off joining the OWG for two months. Eventually I realized that if I was serious about writing, I needed real feedback.
So, for the first time in my life, I threw my work out there where other writers could tear it apart. The first critique came in, and I held my breath as I read it. Hey! They liked it! This isn’t so bad. Most of the critiques were similar: generally positive with just some little points that needed fixing.
Then I got her crit; the one I’d been dreading, even after I thought I’d stopped expecting it. Sure, she had good things to say, but she tore the chapter apart. It was brutal, and I spent the rest of that day in tears. The next day though, I said to myself that it was just one opinion. After all, everyone else liked it. And I went back to writing.
The next month, she critiqued me again. And the month after that. Every month, I waited for her comments to come in, desperate for her approval. After four or five months, she finally said something about how “nothing had happened yet” in the story. It was the slap in the face I needed. She was right. I’d posted chapter upon chapter of set-up.
After another night of crying, I decided to set that story aside. I needed to completely re-think it, and NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month for the uninitiated) loomed right around the corner. I took a deep breath and decided to dive into November with a new idea, determined to knock the socks off the critiquer whose comments I’d come to both need and dread.
For better or worse, because of her, my deep-seated self-doubt had been replaced with a frantic need to become something more than a hack who just churned out mediocre stories. Because of her, I wanted to become an author.