So, I spent a bit of time yesterday re-reading my very first project, Love & Other Things, in advance of the release of the follow-up, Nothing But Love, within the next month or so.
This project was thirty-eight thousand hard fought words. The beginning of it all, that started without a name. Originally, this story was quite different, but I think that in the end, I pegged down what was right for these characters, and those other stories, other scenes, belong to other characters, who will eventually make themselves known.
Anyway, as I read, I found it hard to not pick my own work apart, based on the things I’ve learned, and the way my voice has developed in the six projects I’ve done since this one. I wanted to obsess over under-developed plots, bad phrasing, unnecessary inner-dialogue, etc. I wanted to re-write the book.
Because I’m crazy.
It kind of felt like going off to bougie-college, then coming back home, and suddenly nothing at home is good enough anymore. Because you’re a terrible, snooty person.
I was doing that to my own book! And… for what? Why?! I don’t have a perfect project out there, period. I don’t know that I’ll ever have a perfect project, so why was I being so hyper-critical of this one? My first one? I don’t have an answer for that, not really. So… I stopped. I didn’t stop reading it, I stopped being a bitch to myself about it, and just enjoyed the story as written, because (If I do say so myself) there’s plenty there to enjoy.
Instead of dwelling on the mistakes I made there, I can focus on correcting those mistakes and presenting a conclusion worthy of my characters with Nothing But Love.
I’ve only been writing for public consumption for a year, (Less, actually) but I’ve already learned so much. Not just about writing, but about publishing and the politics of that, making genuine connections with other writers, editing and working with editors, and really, I’ve learned a lot about myself. So, every “mistake” I made with Love & Other Things had a lesson behind it, that I’m grateful to have learned. I know that I still have a long way to go. A year from now, I’m sure that I’ll probably look at my current work and feel the urge to pick it apart based on the things that I’ll know by then. And just like now, I’ll tamp that back down, and focus instead on how if I hadn’t gone for it, hadn’t taken the risk, I wouldn’t be anywhere.
In any case, Love & Other Things went through another round of editing, and is on sale now for $0.99 in preparation for the followup (and conclusion) of Tara, Kristin, and Val’s story.