But I'd venture a guess we've had about 100 times more moments when we've looked at those words we just poured our last drop of blood into and thought, "Holy crap. That is AWFUL!"
I've had a lot of those moments. More than I'd care to admit.
The first one was after I finished my rough draft of my FIRST novel in 2007. I was SO INCREDIBLY excited.
But then I started to edit the thing. What I found was a nice story written by someone who hadn't a clue how to right a nice story. My writing was HORRID.
Fast forward to another time... May 2013. One published novel under my belt. I was carpooling with fellow Alleycat Amy to our first (hopefully annual!) Alleycat retreat. Amy and I thought it'd be fun to read our storys aloud and give each other tips.
But Amy was driving, so that left me to read.
I read hers. It was AMAZING. Her prose was perfect. I was in awe of her elegantly fantastic descriptions.
And then I took mine out. First, I found at least 3 spelling/grammar issues in, like the first page or something crazy. (In hers, I found NONE in the whole thing.) And in the whole scene, I don't think I "described" one dad bloomin' thing.
It was like comparing her Picasso to my stick figure I use when playing hangman with my kids.
How could it be that *I* published a book when this fantastic lady hadn't yet? And what in the world had my editor been thinking to give me a contract??? My writing was AWFUL!
Fast forward again to a week or so ago. I'm in the middle of editing a novella I wrote as a sequel to my first book. I've never written a novella, though, so am trying to figure out timing and all the things that are "different" from writing full-length fiction. I was reading my first chapter for the 1,000th time and thought... wow. This is pretty much on the level of horse manure right here.
But here is what I'm realizing...
#1. I am not Amy. I mean, outside the obvious hair difference and weight difference and the whole Amy's-prego and I only LOOK like I am since I'm still carrying WAY too much baby weight...... I AM NOT AMY. I don't write like her. Our voice is totally different. She's a suprano and I'm an alto. She has these fantastic descriptions and my voice focuses a bit more on sarcasm and humor and action. Does she write better? She'd say no, I'd say probably, but I'd also say more than that, we write DIFFERENT.
And different is GOOD.
#2. All unedited writing stinks. Some of us *ahem--amy--ahem* do a fantastic job of editing as we go, thus our first drafts look more polished. I'm not one of those. My first draft is wordy vomit on the page that sketches out a plot. Edits are what make it shine. Smooths--even chops off-- edges and paints pretty colors and makes it presentable. Just because I edit at the end and not as I go, doesn't make me a bad writer. It makes me pretty normal actually.
#3. Being vain is overrated. You know, if we all sat down and read our books and thought, "Man, wow, we ROCK as writers---We got it going ON...." we'd all sound like a bunch of self-absorbed writer pricks. No--humility isn't a bad thing... only when we get stuck on the negative and don't let it spur us onto greatness.
Discussion: Do you ever struggle with self-doubt about your writing? How do you rise above it instead of letting it control or defeat you?