There have been many days when I can sit at this computer and blast off thousands of words, flying through chapters and piecing together a story. Honestly getting positive feedback and useful criticism catapults me into creative mode. The best thing I ever did when I opened Trust after five years void of key clicks and chicken scratch journaling was to have others read my work. I knew these ladies loved the fantasy, science fiction, paranormal genres. Oh, and who didn’t mind the adult language and situations my characters thrived in, so I sent the first three chapters to them under the guise that a “friend” in San Diego had written it and asked me to get some feedback. I know that they are voracious readers who would tear thru her pages quickly and provide me with some honest feedback. This idea was a leap of faith; one that I felt would either lend to me finally finishing the book or that if could mean the end for Trust, for Alex Conner.
What I didn’t expect was their reaction. Each of them came to me asking about the characters by name, wanting to read more, and showing me that they have made some real connections with my writing. I let them off the hook at once letting them know it was me, tears threatened my eyes with joy after hearing the feedback, especially since I hadn’t even worked through the major edits whatsoever- let’s just call it a rough, rough draft.
I chose one person to read my book as I wrote it. As soon as I would write a few chapters I’d email them to her, and she gave me near immediate feedback being a super fast reader. She’s been a best friend since our daughters were one, and I trust her fully and completely. She taught me how to take criticism, how to get past doubt when to rearrange, pull back and add more. I admit I hated parts of it. I would get angry, annoyed, filled with self-doubt when she pointed out errors. I was incapable of not opening her feedback and read it during dinner, time with my family, inappropriate times of course. So I had to learn to wait to open the emails and to breathe thru the desire to want to, and before I dove into it. I worked hard to not let book stuff take away from family time or stay up too late fixing everything quickly. It was hard for me, letting things go, getting back to them later. It’s a process that has been hard for me, something that was even more difficult as the editing process went full throttle once I found an editor.
It comes down to trying to not be an immediate fixer all of the time, which even though one may think fixing it now and fast is the most efficient, it was getting in the way of my life, my children and causing me added stress. Trust worked those kinks out of me, thru relentless repetition, well somewhat, it’s hard to change. It isn’t impossible, but hard. Shaking off doubt may be the most difficult part of it all. I had to realize that even though I was making errors, and causing both my friend and my editor to question the flow or suggest a change. Both of which led to either quick fixes or hours of rewrites, my biggest obstacle was myself. I’d take their feedback hard sometimes, thinking I couldn’t do what they asked. This is part of the whole writing process as well, there were many times I doubted my ability to get to where I wanted to go in the book, not knowing how to state something or whether or not anyone would be able to visualize my scenes, be surprised, laugh, cry, really feel anything at all. I can say that I did laugh, cry, and sometimes shake as I typed, washed away by waves of emotion while the characters reminded me of pieces of people I have met and knew. The were also manifestations and of my ability to empathize with everyone, even fictional characters who I was tormenting and ripping away parts of their made-up souls and hearts. Yes you actually become invested in the world you create as a writer. So criticism, even the best and most needed will force you to doubt, to worry, to slam shut the laptop, or push away from your desk in disgust.
As I said it is part of the process, but if you give in to it, if you let yourself live in the doubt, make it seep into your being, your creativity will sputter out. It will be bound, gagged and smothered by doubt. My mother and I talked a lot about the feeling of guilt; I have coined it the evil twin of doubt. She said guilt was a useless emotion, paralyzing and parasitic. Hanging on to guilt in your life will keep you from forgiving yourself, letting anyone love the real you. Indeed, it can stop you from living. Not clinging to guilt isn’t the same as not caring about making mistakes or hurting someone, but without forgiveness or oneself and others, how do you continue? The same goes for the doubt that ate away at me. There were many times I couldn’t see the end in site, didn’t think I would ever get there, that I would never make my story work, let alone be read and enjoyed. But I got out of those sink holes of doubt over and over again. Yes, they still creep in, ask my friends as I let myself fester over a 1-star rating with no comments as to why. Yes, I have fives and great comments, but that one sad star tried to gnaw at me, poisoning me with doubt.
The best thing I can suggest is to not take it all on alone, find who you can talk to, rely on to hear you, not to fix it, but to listen. Holding on to the doubt alone is setting you up for succumbing to its siren like ways. It can shut down your creativity, starve it, and block the channels from letting the words, pictures, and music in. So whatever you are striving for in your life, don’t let doubt block your way. Put yourself out there, or your made up friend from San Diego, and take the feedback and suggestions. They will make you even better than you already are, use it to fuel your creative mind rather than use it to build a wall of doubt.
Thank you as always for walking through my mind with me and please check out my first book Trust today. Visit http://www.ParkerSinclair.net for a sample and where to buy as well as liking Parker Sinclair Books on Facebook.
Live, laugh, create and reach for the stars!