Negative doubt. _______________________________________Those demoralising feelings of doubt.
Doubt that I could write. That I could really be an author worthy of publishing.
My first book has been published and the painful doubt has now dawned… should I have published?
It wasn’t ready as the editing was crap! Hours upon hours of editing ended up showing me up; as a poor writer.
Why do I say this?
Today I began counting the negatives. From those thoughtful people who believe I need to know my writing faults. Who haven’t asked if I really want their opinions. Their negative opinions I mean.
There are those who I know, who have read my novel, but who have said absolutely nothing about it.
Today I have read that as a negative.
Honestly, why do this?
Surely some of the silence is – they can’t be bothered talking about the books they read. Or they haven’t even read it. Or their lives are all consuming with more important things than telling me they have read it.
For today one person told me he had read my book. He said he wanted to talk to me about it, with a voice sounding of disapproval. Not looking me in the eye. The ‘higher than thou’ attitude.
What did my mind do?
Tell myself he hated it; hated my writing style.
Disagreed with my theology, my interpretation of history.
Perhaps it is my grammatical errors he wants to talk to me about?
I processed, until I felt the black cloud pass over me. Smothering my enthusaiam and desire to write. Freezing my creativity.
How rational a response is that ?
What happened to the majority of reviewers who enthusiastically told me they loved it?
Who can’t wait for the next one.
Saying,’Keep on writing. I loved to hate the bad guy. Felt for the main female character. Wept at the marriage….’
Those – the majority, who told me they loved my style of writing.
Saying, ‘Don’t change anything.’
Who didn’t even notice the punctuation marks incorrectly positioned.
Didn’t see the lack of verbs.
Loved the large space between lines, paragraphs. Which made reading easy, especially for elderly eyes.
Some were short. Some were longer – ‘Loved it. It flowed naturally. The first part wasn’t slow for them…’
It’s these readers I am really writing for.
Those who genuinely like what I am attempting to do.
As for the self appointed editors –
– do they read to enjoy the story?
– or to correct the author?
Am I writing for them?
No! Definitely not.
Tonight I have decided I will continue writing for my ravers. I love them as they love my uniqueness. They enjoy my ability to tell a story; my way. I love this feeling of being appreciated. I love being an author for those who love my work.
As for the negative reviewers?
I love them as well, but in a different way. I will love them when I ask them to help me editing my second novel. And they agree to help. As this is when their abilities to edit and correct are needed. Yes, I need them. This is when I need those who critique.
Tonight I read my favourite blogging author’s weekly letter.
Once again she has reassured me of the great writing I am doing.
– My ability to pace well.
– Have easy on the eye white spacing in my manuscript.
– And more. Thank you Mary Carroll Moore.
I invite you to enjoy Mary’s blog below.
May it help you in your writing as her blogs help me. It’s a continual process of learning the craft.
Paragraph and Line Lengths–How They Affect Your Story’s Pacing
by Mary Carroll Moore.
I never paid much attention to paragraph or sentence lengths. I just wrote, felt satisfied if I got the story down. Then, in the late eighties, I got a job as a editor at a publishing company in the Midwest.
As an editor, I noticed that I had a visual reaction to a person’s writing: how it looked on the page, how dense or light. How much white space or how much text. Even before I began to read, I had a sense of whether I would be engaged, just by how the text looked.
Blocks of dense text turned me off. I was paid to read them, so I did, of course. But I had to work harder to get engaged.
I learned about pacing: how fast a story moves for the reader. Pacing is half mechanical. Long or short sentences, big or short words, all affect pacing. Shorter sentences and shorter words usually read faster. Longer sentence require the reader to slow down and work harder.
Seeing writing from an editor’s eyes–what a change that was. Writing became much more than just telling the story. I began looking at my own writing and changing the sentence and paragraph lengths.
Whenever I read a piece of writing with same-length paragraphs, I noticed a sleepy feel. Another clue!
A blog reader wrote me about this: “Paragraph [length] must be terribly important because as I read and change them the adventures seem to grow in importance.” She’s absolutely right.
She wanted me to share any rules I knew about how to work with paragraph lengths. There’s aren’t really rules–it’s a kind of rhythm you begin to catch as you gain in writing and editing skill, but here are a few guidelines I picked up as an editor. See if they are helpful. If so, try one as your writing exercise this week.
Working with Mechanical Pacing
1. Print your pages and lay them side by side. Squint at them. Notice where you have large blocks of text. Notice the white space. (Thanks to writer Alex Chee for this tip.) This is very hard to see on the computer screen, easy to see in an e-reader or printed out.
2. Go back into your document. Read the dense paragraphs out loud. Look for any natural pauses where you could break them.
3. Break out dialogue. Any place you have dialogue embedded in a paragraph of other text, separate it out.
Here’s an example from a recent class–a before and after so you can see the difference. The writing is still rough, but the paragraph changes made a big difference in pacing.
Sandy climbed the stairs and felt her belly heave. Pregnancy made her feel like a sea mammal, only she didn’t have the luxury of water to buoy her up. Swimming through the hot Alabama air wasn’t her idea of blissful motherhood. She could hear the phone ringing inside the apartment down the short hallway. It was probably her sister. It had been weeks since she’d promised herself to call Jeannine and get someone to come for a couple of hours in the afternoon, just to help with groceries or laundry. Jeannine’s idea had rankled at first, and Simon wouldn’t hear of it, but her sister said she’d even pay the first few weeks, an early birthday present for Sandy. Sandy didn’t want to buck Simon but as she grabbed the top of the railing at last and pulled herself up to the landing, she promised herself she’d call as soon as she got inside and turned on the a/c.
Sandy climbed the stairs and felt her belly heave. Pregnancy made her feel like a sea mammal, only she didn’t have the luxury of water to buoy her up. Swimming through the hot Alabama air wasn’t her idea of blissful motherhood.
She could hear the phone ringing inside the apartment down the short hallway. It was probably her sister.
It had been weeks since she’d promised herself to call Jeannine and get someone to come for a couple of hours in the afternoon, just to help with groceries or laundry. Jeannine’s idea had rankled at first, and Simon wouldn’t hear of it, but her sister said she’d even pay the first few weeks, an early birthday present for Sandy.
Sandy didn’t want to buck Simon but as she grabbed the top of the railing at last and pulled herself up to the landing, she promised herself she’d call.
As soon as she got inside and turned on the a/c.
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