The Book Sucks, Not You

I want to talk about something serious today. Every writer is different, so maybe this hasn't happened to you. But if it has, I feel closer to you then ever. What am I babbling about?

Writing a book that sucks.

I think our instincts tell us the truth while we're writing. Most of the time we just ignore it, right? Thinking it's first-draft jitters or the shiny new idea trying to pull us away. I hate to tell you this, but sometimes the book we're working on so hard... really isn't good. That sounds so harsh or even cruel. Since I decided a long time ago that this blog would show you my journey and all my lessons - and this post applies to me like every other - I'm not going to tell anyone otherwise.

That doesn't mean you should give up.

I can't stress that enough. Because guess what? I finished the story that was so horrible one of my favorite betas told me, "You can do better than this, Kelsey." I finished the story that put a stone in my stomach as I typed, that whispered to me I'm no good, I'm no good, I'm no good.

What was the point? Why bother? To tell you the truth, one of the reasons was because I'd gotten so far I didn't want to stop. It seemed like a waste, putting so much of myself into one document and then just... forgetting about it. So I pushed through until the end. I tried to resolve the story for these characters and for myself.

That wasn't the only reason, though! Another was because I was still learning. What to write, what wasn't working, how to write, why I was doing this whole crazy thing. I learned that I have great betas, because they aren't afraid to be honest with me. I learned what is more of a challenge for me, and thus, what I need to work on.

And do you want to know a secret? Hearing the horrible suspicion cemented - that this was not, in fact, my best work or even good work - was not the punch in the gut I thought it would be. It gave me a sense of... relief. Okay, everything is all out there. This story needs more tweaking than Julia Robert's eyebrows in her early days. My worries were on the mark, which means I have good instincts.

Which leads me to another issue.

Don't delete it.

This was one of the first things my beta said to me after I read her comments. She's right, of course. Every story, no matter how bad, has potential. The ability to become something more. Maybe not right now, or even in the near future, but it's there. I plan on putting it on the back burner and letting it simmer for a while. As times goes on, I might think of new ideas or ways to make adjustments. I'm not a bad writer, and the story isn't over. It was just another struggle that has been put on pause.

So where do I go from here? The answer, for a writer, is simple. You open a brand-new Word document, crack your knuckles, and get to work.