Friday, July 25, 2014
While working on book three of my Tuatha series, I discovered a couple details from a previous book were never written down in my series bible. Strange...I could have sworn I did so, but there you are. So I hauled out my lone print copy of the book, Shadows on Stone and started reading.
Twelve chapters later, I realized I had long ago discovered the details I needed. Yes, I found them back on page 52, but I was so caught up in the story I just continued to read. And this was a good thing. Too often, authors get in a slump. They go through a stage where they are convinced they are crappy, no talent hacks with no creativity or imagination. It's difficult to write when you don't believe in yourself.
This is when I find the best thing for me to do is return to my 'old' friends...those first stories I wrote in the fresh flush of enthusiasm and spirit. Those were the ones I truly loved and dreamed and carried around in my heart and soul. I'm often amazed when I return to my previous books. Did I really write that scene? Where did that snappy dialogue come from? How did that particular idea come to me?
Some writers declare they don't read their early work because it makes them cringe when they notice the errors they made. Why? Do we cringe when we remember that first batch of cookies we made or that first fledgling attempt at dancing? All skills in life require a learning curve. I look back on my early books as a fairly successful learning curve. After all, my first book--my FIRST book was offered a contract.
The thing about stories is they aren't going to appeal to everyone. That's life. We writers sometimes forget that crucial truth. When we read a bad review or go through a sales slump, we automatically assume it's because we're a failure. Nah. Some truly horrible books are selling like hotcakes. Some lyrical authors never find their audience. In the end, the only reader that counts is the author that wrote the book.
If we don't find our own books fascinating and thrilling, if the love scenes in our books don't excite us, if we don't care about our heroes and heroines, why should we expect anyone else to do so? In my early career, I did quite a few online interviews and one question I was asked over and over was 'Who is your favorite character from your books?' How in the world could I answer that? If I'm true to myself, then all of my characters are my favorites.
Occasionally, a new reader will ask me what book I recommend. I rarely recommend a specific book. How would I do that without knowing that reader's taste? I can offer to send them an excerpt so they can have a sample of my writing, but really, the only way they can choose is either by series order or by reading the blurb.
What one reader might love, another might just find to be blah. The only reader who should truly, absolutely, positively love my book is me. If I don't love it, all the others don't matter.