One of the hardest things for an author to do is rework an old story, one that’s been sitting on the shelf gathering dust for years. The reason this is difficult is because your writing has vastly improved over the years, and to go back and fix all of your mistakes takes not only an outsider’s perspective on the story, which is difficult in itself, but also a sense of humility and courage. Even if you have an editor look at it, there’s still so much wrong with it. So why bother? You bother with it because it’s still a story you love, just as much as every one that flows from your fingertips, and you want to share that story.
And sometimes, you have to completely rewrite the book. For me, this is very difficult to do as well.
I happened upon a stinging review last night for one of my books, and the comfort I felt at not getting upset surprised me a little. Perhaps it’s the psychology class I’m taking, or maybe it’s just that I’ve come to realize that some people will like my books and some won’t. The best action I can take is not to respond to the review, regardless of the approach I’d take. Every author learns this lesson.
The doubt is the worst part, however. You start doubting the story. Are my characters really flat? Is there not a cohesiveness to the story? Why didn’t this reader connect with the characters and enjoy the story? You begin obsessing over the details of the review. STOP. Obsessing is the wrong approach. It’s just a review by one person who read your book. On the bright side, they took the time to actually write the review when so few do so. You must remember that readers are extremely critical of books and stories and tales. Most of them don’t even know the difference between a tale and a story, but it doesn’t matter. What concerns you is the fact that that review is the first one potential readers see, and it may prevent them from buying your book that others have actually enjoyed.
So what do you do?
It’s that simple. Whether it’s another olde story or a shiny new one, you keep writing and you keep sharing. Why? Because writers thrive on not money but the creation of new worlds with wonderful adventures and great characters.
My head has been lost in books since last October, but they’re not the right kinds of books and they don’t get my creative side spinning a new tale to tell. As of March 30th, my head will be out of academia and back in the clouds once again.
And I’ll have some new stories to share with you soon.