Writing Process

Even the optimist feels like giving up sometimes

I debated for a long time as to whether I should write this post or not.  I typically don’t write posts like these, but I have promised my readers a glimpse into my writing journey and this regrettably is part of it.

It’s been about a month and a half since my last post.  I’d love to say I was so busy and productive that I just didn’t have the time to post, but that is far from the truth.  I say could I burnt out from all the A to Z posts and needed a break, but that too would be a lie.  The A to Z challenge was motivating and inspiring.  I was filled with creative energy after writing a month of blog posts.

So what happened?  Well, I hit the worst creative slump I have ever had and was ready to give up.  I have never experienced the “I should just quit” with writing.  I have had moments when I thought my writing sucked, but I never thought about quitting, well, until last month.  What was the terrible thing that made me want to quit?  A reader sent me feedback.  If you recall I sent Dissonance out to a few last sets of eyes to see if it was ready to be released into the world.  Out of the few readers I sent the book to only one got back with me (we will call this person Reader X).  Reader X didn’t have very many positive things to say about the book.

I was heartbroken and at a loss for words.  The review stated Malcolm was too feminine and other characters were flat and unbelievable.  These are the same characters that other readers enjoyed.  I wasn’t sure why Reader X’s words cut so deeply, but they made me feel that I had wasted the past seven years of my life.  The words in the email though were (hopefully) meant to help, brought me to tears and I just wanted to quit.  I was ready to give up on my childish dreams of writing and step back into the grown up world.

The odd thing was the day prior to receiving Reader X’s email, I was excited to get my read through / edits done so I could get the book out to my proofreader.  Then the very next day I didn’t care to ever gaze upon the words again.  That night I said goodbye to my writing.  The last words in my journal entry were:

A dream has been shattered at my feet due to the words of an individual with a good intent.

When the light of a dream goes out

A shell of a man remains

Lost in a sea of sorrows and regrets

He wanders in the cold darkness looking for a purpose

Though his look is in vain,

As he is destined to float at the mercy of the sea for eternity.

The next morning I had a long conversation with my husband about writing and feeling I wasn’t talented enough to write.  He basically told me to stop being foolish and get back to writing.  I was giving Reader X too much power, power that I should have never given them in the first place.  He has read my work and he loved my main character.  He said Reader X missed the nuances and was wanting me to write a more stereotypical male character, which Malcolm is anything but.

After talking to him I was feeling a little better, but I still wasn’t ready to jump back on that writing horse again.  I just couldn’t shake the self-doubt.  Five more days passed and I was talking to the immortal J.C. Hart, my friend and confidant (and an amazing writer), she had mentioned something about giving up.  I private messaged her and we got to talking and I confided in her about my experience with Reader X.  She thankfully walked though the review with me, told me to go with my gut, and listen to my husband.  She essentially gave me a virtual slap in the face and told me to get back to writing.

So two days after talking to J.C. Hart,  I was back to working on my edits and contacted a cover artist to get Dissonance back on the road to publishing.  As of today, Dissonance is in the capable hands of my proofreader and we are on schedule for a late summer release. What I did learn is choose your readers carefully and don’t give anyone the power to make you give up on a dream.

Now on to write Reverie (the sequel)!

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7 thoughts on “Even the optimist feels like giving up sometimes”

  1. Thanks for writing this honest and heartfelt post Amanda. I think many people working in creative industries can relate. I think it’s also interesting when you’re on the cusp of doing something you believe in passionately, you can almost guarantee that something/the universe sends someone to really test you. Happened to me not so long ago. It’s times like those you have to trust your own instincts and also as you’ve articulated, call on people whose opinions and talents you value for that extra motivation and “push” while remembering to be gentle on yourself but stoic at the same time. So glad you’ve overcome this hurdle. Forget about Reader X – I recently read “You can be the juiciest peach in the bowl, but not everyone likes peaches”. 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

  2. We have all been there! It sucks. Doubting what you’re doing, why you’re doing it, and feeling you have to ‘grow up’ and get on with your life, that is just fear speaking. Negative feedback totally blows, but it’s just one reader, not God almighty. As Elizabeth Gilbert said, ‘Nobody’s child ever died because someone got a bad review in The New York Times. It’s just art.’

    Every reader is different. On the negative side that means that not everyone will like your book. On the plus side it means that a ton of people will utterly love it. The world needs all our books, that’s the bottom line.
    Congratulations on being back in the saddle! Looking forward to seeing your work out there!
    (If you ever decide to stop writing, make sure it’s for a good reason.)

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Well you know my story (uh, stories) with giving up… or getting close to it.

    Thank you for sharing this. It is a pertinent reminder that at the end of the day, WE are the creators of our works, and WE have to be happy with it.

    Onwards and upwards xx

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I want to make a guess as to who this Reader X is, but I’m sure there’s more than one out there so it doesn’t make any difference. There’s miles of difference between criticism and constructive criticism. I would guess that Reader X doesn’t know the difference or is, I’m sorry to say, trying to bring you down to his/her level.

    When you allowed me to read your rough draft, I did so as if I had no prior knowledge about you. Get this — I can still remember parts of the story! This is huge seeing that I’m afflicted with short-term memory loss issues. Sure, it needed a little polish but I knew that was coming.

    If your proofreader doesn’t like the story, there’s something seriously wrong with him/her. If you need advertising space, let me know. I’ll advertise on my blog.

    Liked by 2 people

  5. Hey hon 🙂 So pleased I was able to help you out, and that you are back on track now. WELL DONE!!! You’ve worked long and hard, and you’re almost there now. Sometimes the important lessons to learn hurt the most, but you have overcome – keep on being awesome 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  6. A great, honest post that most writers will identify with because most of us have been there.
    I love what Deborah quoted in her comment above, ‘You can be the juiciest peach in the bowl, but not everyone likes peaches.’ It is just so true.
    I made the dreadful mistake of sending one of my books to someone who really doesn’t like my genre and got a slating in return. My mistake…bad choice of reader. But it did knock the wind out of my sails and I didn’t write for ages.
    I’m glad you’re back writing, and I wish you all good things with your book.

    Liked by 1 person

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