I did it. For the first time in my life after 50 plus years of scribbling words and ideas on paper I completed a book. Or so I thought. After sending the Prologue and First Chapter to three well read, friendly and supportive first readers, the verdict came back unanimous. It’s shite.
In fairness to these three kind souls, their critique only sent me into the depths of The Hell of Depression and Self Pity leading me from there to the bottom of the bottle where I finally found the devil may care.
Perhaps I’m being a bit over dramatic. What each reader said was nearly the same thing. And I paraphrase, “I liked reading the chapters, it’s intriguing, but you introduced so many characters that it was hard to identify the protagonist. When are you sending me the next chapter?”
See! And I was so sure I had written a bestseller. Only to find that it is barely readable. Surely now you empathize with my jackknife dive off of a very high cliff into the rubble of my creative soul. Okay. So perhaps a bit over the top.
Actually I feel a sense of accomplishment. There is much more work to be done to produce a readable copy. I understand that better now than before. My first readers critique led me from the bottom of the bottle to rereading sections of the many books I have on writing, character development, the hero’s journey, dialogue and to selected readings from Mark Manson’s book “The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck’. Basically everything I reread was telling me the same thing. Get over it and get back to writing if that is what I want to do. If not, then do something else. How dare these published best selling authors tell me to get over it. They have obviously never felt the pain of rejection and soul crushing criticisms! I am the one, and alone on this perilous journey.
For a moment my ego peeked its ugly head into the creative process. My ego had been cast aside, forgotten as I dove head first into my imagination, writing and rewriting and rewriting. Remarkably, and rewarding, from somewhere within the jumble of my thoughts the characters began developing as if they were actually stepping off the pages onto my keyboard and writing the story their own damn selves!
Perhaps I should blame the characters for the horrendous critiques spat like acid on me by my first three readers? No? Well, it was just a thought.
In fact, and true to my past 50 years, I am only distracting myself from the work needed to produce something worth doing. Seeking whatever reason to quit something that I enjoy doing but is now requiring even more time and effort.
So after placing the Whiskey and Art Podcast and Blog on hiatus for several months to finish my first book, and the generous time spent , and the actionable critique, by the first three readers, I realize now more than ever the joy I feel when I write and rewrite and imagine and re-imagine and learn and read. So I am getting back to the work that is writing. Work if I want to produce something coherent and readable and perhaps memorable. At the very least a memorable part of my own life’s journey.
It’s shite and will remain so until the protagonist completes her hero’s journey and finds that her home was actually just three heel clicks away, so to speak, though it seems like I heard that somewhere before, in a best seller perhaps?