How Pink Eye Saved the Day #IWSG

Welcome to the July 2017  meeting of the Insecure Writers Support Group, a time to vent your writerly frustrations and/or offer encouragement. July 27 is the #IWSGPit event, so get ready to pitch your completed & polished manuscripts. Get the details here.

It's going to be a great opportunity for writers, and I hope you all get marvelous leads from it. I myself have nothing to pitch. You see, to have a new completed & polished manuscript, one needs to actually sit down and pound out some new words first.

But don't worry. That's not a lame attempt at an answer to this month's optional IWSG question:

What is one valuable lesson you've learned since you started writing?

Step away and take a deep breath. That's my answer. It can be useful at many different stages during the writing (and publishing) process, but today I specifically apply it to that moment when you receive feedback from your editor.

If you're like me, your first instinct is to go on the defensive. By the time we've handed our work off to the editor, we've rewritten, tweaked, and polished that baby until it's perfect. How dare they stroll on in there and start tearing things apart, especially when they don't know our characters or understand the intricacies of our plot as intimately as we do?

And that's just it - they see it for what's on the page, not what's in our minds. If something in the story catches them up, chances are it will also catch up other readers. I know this. You know this. We all know this, but that doesn't change my gut reaction.

When I received a strong suggestion from my publisher to rewrite the ending of my second novel, oh boy, was I resistant. My head boiled with a whole slew of reasons why the ending they asked for was ridiculous, impossible, and so wrong, wrong, wrong for the story!

But I didn't have time to type out my heated response right then. My daughter had a possible case of pink eye, and we had to get to the doctor. So I stepped away from the keyboard, and a funny thing happened on the way to the clinic...during the drive, I started thinking about how maybe, possibly, I could work out the ending they'd asked for. In the waiting room, I thrashed through ideas for making it happen in a way that would be true to the characters and story. By the time we got home, I realized that yeah, this rewrite was worth trying.

The response I sent to the publisher was much different than the one I'd have punched out if I hadn't had to leave right then. That opportunity to step away and take a deep breath was exactly what I'd needed.

This post is part of the monthly blog hop/therapy session known as Insecure Writer's Support Group, founded by the one and clonely Alex J. Cavanaugh. Click below to join the group!


Jennifer Lane said...

Excellent advice. Going hulk smash when receiving edits happens to me all the time! Thank goodness cooler heads prevail. (Though pink eye is GROSS.)

Madeline Mora-Summonte said...

Great advice for writing AND for life!

And pink eye to the rescue? Who knew? :)

L. Diane Wolfe said...

Excellent advice. Never respond right away. Sleep on it.

Tamara Narayan said...

That's the first positive thing I've heard about pink eye! Being able to manipulate a story and brainstorming fixes are some of my favorite things about writing, but handling other people's advice when it doesn't mesh with your own vision is super-tough.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Best thing to do is stop and think. Glad you were forced to do that.

Crystal Collier said...

Yeah, I've had that experience. In fact, my editor made me kill a character that I loved. I was not happy about that. At all. But it definitely strengthened the story, and ultimately, that's what matters, eh?

emaginette said...

Yeah, stepping back and considering feedback is always wise. Who knew pinkeye would be a blessing. I hope she got ice cream. :-)

Anna from elements of emaginette

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

I've learned to do that too. I sometimes have to just walk away and come back to it the next day. I used to rant to my husband all the time about this one editor. No pink eye involved.

Nick Wilford said...

Lesson learned! I think it's always worth giving some feedback time to sink in before acting on it. After all, when I give feedback to others it's usually not on the spur of the moment either. I have to digest the story and consider various different ways it could be improved.

Neurotic Workaholic said...

You're right, sometimes it is important to step away and take a deep breath, and that's a lesson that can be applied to many other parts of life. There have been so many times where I spoke/acted first and didn't think about it until later, and I ended up regretting what I said/did. It made me wish that I had taken a step away and taken a deep breath, while thinking about it before immediately going on the defensive, like you said.

Nick Wilford said...

Just popping back to tell you that I nominated you for the Liebster Award. Congrats! You can check out the details at my blog.