Howdy, howdy! After a nice rest, I’ve been digging into the second novel attempt (it doesn’t have a title yet). I’m currently just reading through it to get back into the voice and to figure out where I left off, but something strange has been happening during this process: I actually really like this story. Like, I’d be willing to buy it if I came across it in a bookstore kind of like. It’s weird. Personally, I’m the type of person who usually hates everything she writes, so this is a scary concept for me. I know I’m not alone in hating everything I write, so I thought I’d share a little about why I think I’m that way and what this experience has taught me thus far.
First off, for anyone who thinks their words suck, you will be asked (repeatedly) why you keep working on something you feel so bad about. You are not alone. Most people don’t understand the usefulness of self-loathing. For me, I think it’s mostly just a defense mechanism. If I tell myself that story I just submitted sucks, then the inevitable rejection won’t hurt so much. And yes, while a story is in the limbo of a slush pile, rejection is considered inevitable. Maybe I’m a pessimist. Anyway, it’s not that I actually hate my work, it’s just that if someone else ends up hating it, it doesn’t hurt as bad if I can say “yeah, I know it sucks.”
So, what happens when self-haters can’t help but admit what they’re working on is good? Lots of mixed emotions, that’s what. There’s denial: “I didn’t write that.” “There’s no way my thoughts are that organized.” Then there’s the fanciful rationalizations: “The writing fairies got ahold of it while I wasn’t looking and changed everything.” (Yes, they exist. We’ve all opened our manuscripts to find things we know we couldn’t or wouldn’t have written. It’s usually just a word or phrase, nothing too obvious.) And finally, there’s acceptance. That “Holy crap, I wrote this…” moment. And you know what? It’s okay to feel that way.
I’m still at the point in this novel where I don’t have to share it with anyone. Where all that matters is what I think. So, I’m allowing myself to indulge in that rare book-narcissism that I see others constantly immersed in. Why not wrap myself in the warm fuzzy feeling of liking something I did all by myself? The book’s not even a third of the way finished. There will be plenty of time for hatred and disgust later, right?
In other words, even if every fiber of your self-loathing writerly being says to resist, know that it’s okay to like your words. Hell, some people would go so far as to say it’s a natural feeling! Not me, of course, but others. You can worry about all of the potential rejection later. Right now, accept the warm fuzzies! Accept them! That’s right… just let it happen.