Wow, this is new! I actually know what to call this one! Welcome, everybody, to my second lesson–Love at First Write. I like to write these little articles from a perspective of “I’ve been there.” With this one, though, I have to say, “I still do this.” I’m trying to break the habit, though.
We as writers invest a lot into our writing. Our time, our thoughts, our emotions, all of it gets poured into black letters on white paper. It’s what makes writing an art, really. So much of the author goes into it that it’s like each story shows a tiny window into their heart. A good story is one that leaves you saying, “Man I wish I knew that author.” Or sometimes even, “I feel like I DO know that author!” Which in my opinion is even better.
The problem is that after investing so much emotion, so much of yourself into a story, you can’t help but feel that everyone needs to read it. NOW. It’s far too easy to read through it once (or not at all), slap a cover on it and toss it up on Amazon or Smashwords–we’re in a digital age, the entire world can get it in a matter of twelve hours or less! They can read the amazing story you just finished in no time!
Except… well… you might be a teensy tiny bit biased about the book. Just a little. The first bad review is like a stab to the heart. The second, twisting the dagger. The third–well, it’s not pretty. Yes, there are trolls out there, people that haven’t actually read the book but want to cause trouble. I once saw a poorly written review from someone claiming to be me. Not a bad review, so to say, but definitely a weird form of trolling. There’s all sorts of strange people out there. (Not in here, of course. Just out there. Oh, and not my readers. I love you, readers!) But sometimes the bad review is justified, logical, and deserved. It’s a critique. Criticism is hard to deal with when you’re so blinded by love for the story, yourself.
Now’s the part where I offer you advice. When I was in college the head of the writing department told us that in order to write a great book you should finish the manuscript, put it in your desk drawer, and forget about it for a month or so. When you pull it out you’ll see it with fresh eyes. Of course, in this lovely digital age where I can stay an indie writer (which I very much enjoy being) and still get read, it’s hard to sit on anything for a month. Still, it won’t kill you.
If you really want someone to read it, send it to a friend, or a family member. If you’re lucky they’ll be kind. But regardless, take a break. Take a step back, write a short story or start on the next one, and then come back to it. With anything artistic, including writing, taking a step back is a vital step. How can you see the big picture if you don’t?
Another idea is to read the entire manuscript out loud. For that I suggest you lock yourself into your desk drawer–I mean, office/bedroom/wherever you do your writing, and turn music on so your neighbors/housemates/family or pets don’t think you’re talking to yourself. Even if you are, sort of. But you’d be surprised how many things come up that you didn’t notice–such as plot holes, bad spelling, a disappearing/reappearing item–you see them more clearly when you’re taking the time to pronounce what you’re reading. (But even with that I suggest stepping away from the story for a week or two at least.)
I’m not saying you shouldn’t post it! By all means, get out there, take the plunge, show the world your writing, we want to see it! But we’d rather see it after you’ve taken off the rose-colored glasses, so to say.