When you are a beginning writer, you’re fueled by excitement and passion and unflagging confidence in your abilities. You are in love with your plot or your characters. There is a certain measure of self-protective hubris that gets us through that first novel, and perhaps several thereafter. With luck and effort, each manuscript teaches you something and helps to hone your writing skills. So too may that stream of rejections. When you start young, age and life teaches you a lot more, or should. As an adult writer, I look back on my early efforts that were submitted for publication and send up a prayer of thanks to whatever editor kindly turned me down. I shudder to think how I’d have felt if work of that caliber got out with my name on it.
When I finished grad school and decided to finally Get Serious about my writing, to treat it as the job I wanted it to be rather than a hobby, I knew the piece I had needed work. So I sweated and slaved over it and finished it. Family and friends loved it. I knew it wasn’t right yet. I started a rewrite. Stopped. Started another project. Went back to that first WIP. Stopped.
Through that whole year of stops and starts I devoured books. Other fiction, books on craft and technique. And somewhere along the way I began to internalize it. I started unconsciously analyzing everything I read and watched for GMC, to determine whether it was a scene or a sequel. To pick it apart and figure out what makes it tick. I’ve become critical and picky about everything I read, which has left me with a massive case of reading ennui.
And as I’ve come the end of the plotting phase for my next project, I’ve turned that jaundiced eye on some of my old work. Not in any kind of full read through or editorial effort, but just a casual glance that left me with the sensation that I was staring at Swiss cheese. I can see the holes now in all those pieces that came before. I now recognize the weak spots and so many of the reasons why these pieces just didn’t work. Some of them I’ll come back to someday, some of them I won’t. Some of those stories I think I’ve outgrown. It feels weird to think that about stories I was once so passionate about, but it makes me happy.
I feel like I am finally beginning to see and think like a publishable author.