Welcome to the Dragon's Pen, the blog of an aspiring kiwi author ... chatting about reading, writing, querying and publishing

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Humble Pie and Brick Walls

Due to some very humbling, but very helpful advice I received recently about the beginning of my book I was forced to do some serious thinking.

I like to think I'm good at taking criticism of my work, thinking about it objectively, then taking the advice on board and making the changes I need to and getting on with it. It's not uncommon for me to do the forehead-slapping "why-didn't-I-see-that?" thing.

But I have to admit, some of the comments this time rocked me far more than I was prepared for. It wasn't that the things said were nasty or mean (though one comment was), it was all insightful and hugely helpful and some of it was very encouraging. Maybe I was overtired, I don't know, whatever it was, I got really down about it. Depressed.

I'd been really high after meeting Vanda, the bubble burst, and I fell hard and fast!

My facebook status read:

...... has decided writing is for loonies! And I'm not loony enough to make the cut. Very tempted to delete the whole lot and biff the laptop out the window. :(

Hhmmm, yes. Disturbing stuff!

I felt miserable for a while, cried a bit down the phone to Sue, dutifully listened to a pep talk, ate chocolate and got cuddles from hubby, and went off to work feeling like I'd rather go to bed and hide for a week (and never write again).

Upon reflection, the problem wasn't so much the critiques themselves, I KNEW the comments were right, it was that I couldn't get my head around how to fix it.

I needed to rewrite it - rewrite the first chapters bigger and better and still get to where I needed to be. But I couldn't see how to do it. It was just too hard.

Well, I came home from a hard night at work, emotionally and physically exhausted, and fell into bed. But I couldn't sleep because the new scenes I needed were falling into place. I could see the the pieces of the puzzle that were missing. Yippee! (Yawn...zzzz)

I thought I'd be dithering for weeks, or months, banging my head against a brick wall tagged with the words "How are you going to fix this?"

But NO. The wall lies around my ankles in a mountain of rumble!

It took me a while to get started, but in the end I wrote 6 pages today. The words just tripped off my fingers.

I'm excited, it is possible to think outside the box and start again.

The first words were the hardest and I don't know if this is the beginning I'll end up using, but it is a new beginning.

The depression has faded away and hope is back.


  1. I know that slippery slope too, and I'm very pleased to hear your hope has returned. Just give it time and the answers will come as has happened. Keep writing. :)

  2. You are inspiring. I know how down you were and how frustrated the whole business had you. Now look at yourself. You've picked yourself up and gone for it. :)

    I can't wait to read the new beginning.

  3. Thanks guys. Yep, this blog really is becoming journal of writerly hopes, tribulations and joys.

    Thanks for listening to me whine and being such an encouragement.

  4. Hi Ruth.
    I hope it wasn't one my insipid critique comments that sent you into the doom spiral. Anyway I'm glad you're feeling better about everything now.
    Good luck with the editing.
    - Chris Green
    "Hope springs eternal, because it's stuck on an active volcanoe."

  5. No it wasn't you Chris. :)

    I'm thick skinned enough to cope with your 'insipid critique comments' so keep them coming.

    Hope you're busy writing.