by: Joelle Charbonneau
The more I write, the better I get at the craft of writing. That makes sense, right? Practice makes perfect. However, maybe it is just me, but I’ve also found that the more I write the harder it is for me to discern whether or not the story is any good.
I just completed my 9th manuscript. The first 4 will never see the light of day, which is a good thing. Some should never be read by anyone. Others are in genres I really have no interest in writing in again. They were great practice, but I don’t really want readers to flip through the pages. Four of the other books are either published or under contract. This most recent one is not. Is it good enough to be? I really don’t know.
When I started writing, I assumed that my ability to judge my skill level would improve. And on some level that is true. I am much better at judging the pacing of a scene, or crafting quick dialogue and choosing my words carefully to create the setting. But somewhere along the line I lost the ability to judge my own story. I can tell you if the individual pieces work, but no matter how much time passes, I can’t seem to make a judgment on whether the overall story comes together.
I felt this way when revising my 8th manuscript – MURDER FOR CHOIR – and was terrified when I sent it to my agent. I thought I had too much going on in the book and that she was going to tell me it sucked. Every day that passed between sending it to her and hearing the verdict made me chew my nails and even more certain that the book was terrible. Turns out she loved it. Several editors felt the same way.
Yay! The book sold fast.
Crap! I learned that I no longer have a clue if what I am writing is any good.
Now here I am revising my 9th book trying not to despair at my lack of ability to see the forest through the trees. Do I think the idea for the story is good? Yes. Am I doing it justice? The hell if I know.
So, I guess my question is this – do you ever have trouble gauging the quality of your own work? If so, can you tell me how you get through it because at the moment I can use all the help I can get.