Starting Over Ain’t So Bad
by Joe Torres
I’ve been working on my book for the better part of a year. One day recently, I took a look at my work and hated it. I was mortified. I called myself every filthy name I could think of – quite possibly, I invented a few which may have just been combinations of hand gestures and grunting. I couldn’t believe I had worked so hard to produce such a remarkable piece of crap. I felt completely let down by my own lack of creativity and imagination.
I sat there staring at pages and pages of absolute rubbish. I told myself I was a failure and that I should never have even attempted to “write” a book. Who did I think I was? Truman Capote? Elizabeth Gilbert?!? Of course not, but I was convinced that I had the makings of a great story. Then I looked at what I had worked so hard to produce and I was astounded by its awfulness. I couldn’t believe how terrible it was. It felt forced, fake, and completely inauthentic.
And by the way, this wasn’t the first time I’d trashed the manuscript and started over. The good news is that I now realize a lot about those first few attempts.
- This wouldn’t be my last painful moment along this journey. You hear successful people talk about the path to success not being straight. Boy, ain’t that the truth! Success and failure are like knife fighting: going into a knife fight, the guy who knows he’s going to get cut and makes himself OK with it usually comes out on top. So I’ll take the failures (ahem, cuts) on the chin, metaphorically speaking of course, because, well … ouch.
- Starting over isn’t as bad as it sounds. Yeah, it sucked. And yes, it forced me to take a hard look at what I was doing and tear my own stuff apart to get to the heart of what I was really trying to say. But since doing that, I couldn’t be happier with what I’m actually creating now.
- Treat your creations like living, breathing, EVOLVING things. At 80 years old, you aren’t who you were 8. You change with time. Don’t be afraid to let your work evolve with you. You will change, and since you’re the one creating your characters, your characters will change, too. And that’s OK. Let it happen. Ssssshhhhh … just let it happen.
Maybe these tips are things the average author learns in Life 101 – but it took me some bumps and bruises to discover – and eventually believe – them.
Joe Torres writes sci-fi adventure with heart. He is currently working on his first novel, Force of Nature. Joe lives in Gilbert, Ariz., with his wife and either the most amazing child on the planet or a demon from the depths of hell, depending on which side of nap time you find yourself.