Surprise! It’s the first Wednesday of the month and time for the Insecure Writers’ Support Group. I’d already started thinking about the suggested question for the month when I got a horrible surprise. I’m going to try to work out my reaction in words.
Firstly, you might like to recognise our Co-Hosts for this month:
I’d rather you didn’t go and visit them before you read my tale, but do go and lurk on their posts, and make their generous co-hosting worthwhile.
Question: Have you ever surprised yourself with your writing? (For example, by trying a new genre you didn’t think you’d be comfortable in?)
My writing surprise
My various author bios scattered around the internet, show that I stopped writing fiction early in my career because someone whose opinion I then valued gave me some really bad feedback. Since then I’ve realised how much she’s put me down on virtually every occasion we’ve been together. Enough of that, it’s not today’s story. But the effect lingers on, because I have no judgement of my own work. I write because I want to tell a story, and I have no idea whether it’s any good. I can apply rules, but even leaving it for a while until it becomes ‘not mine’, I still don’t know whether it’s any good.
That’s the same whether it’s a novel or short story. And I’m guessing that nearly all the IWSG members suffer the same problem.
So my surprise came when I got comments on some of my short stories that they were bordering on horror—in a good way.
I suppose I’m only going down that line in a scifi-dystopia way. The pessimism of the world falling apart developing into the imagery of a gigantic monster hidden in the cave some innocent travellers have got themselves lost in.
My main interests in reading were science fiction and fantasy—but today’s scifi and fantasy tend towards a different branch from that I used to read. So when I started writing, I expected to write more in the genre that I liked. It’s a surprise to enjoy writing the Princelings series, but my excuse is that I’m just writing about the secret lives of people I loved. The space series comes from inside me. What I’ve done in the past, both reading and writing, has produced this world and its tensions. I suppose my biggest surprise is that it is more cosy adventure than scifi.
You know (because you’ve been here before on IWSG day) that I’ve been having trouble re-editing the first in my scifi series. I finished the re-edit and it’s out to beta readers at present. I’m halfway through getting the second in the series together to send to my editor along with the first.
This week’s surprise—really sad news
My editor… a brilliant writer, M T McGuire, referred me to her. If she coped with MT’s kind of work, I thought I’d be in safe hands. She spent a couple of days looking at my work, and gave me some good feedback about the rewrite. I hope I’ve been following her advice. I was looking forward to her editing the new version—with trepidation, it’s true, but I did want to get the Perihelix out into the world again, and to show that I’d taken what she’d said on board.
I read MT’s post this week: it was entitled ‘Sad’, and before I’d finished the first line I feared what was coming.
You may nip off now to read the link if you like.
This wonderful, wise lady has departed to a better place. To that wonderful eternal library in the sky.
I looked at my book’s file and wondered what to do.
Sometimes I think it’s just ill-fated.
Other times I think it’s fine, it just needs a copy edit now.
Still more times I remember the words of that ‘friend’ and think I’m rubbish, and I should not be trying to write at all.
But then I went back and reread the comments from this kind and caring editor, and realised how much support she gave me, even though it hurt at the time. I recognise now how much structure she gave those words, to help me find my way through. And what kind guidance they give, now that I have had time to assimilate and act on them.
Thank you, Kate.
I am so sorry you didn’t have enough time to see my book through. I’m sorry you didn’t have enough time to complete all your other wonderful projects. And I’m so sorry you weren’t able to see your family’s lives through into a graceful old age.
In an entirely selfish reaction, my further response is: what on earth am I going to do about the Perihelix now? Three editors have looked at it, and I’m not sure I can cope with anyone new again. Then again, maybe I owe it to Kate to try.