I wrote The Preacher’s Bride almost three years ago and I was definitely in love with it after I wrote it, excited to query it, secretly thinking, this is a wonderful story, how could any agent not like it? (Hah!) Since then I’ve completed two more novels, and I admired each of those, certain they were destined to wow my readers as much as they had me.
That's just the way it is. We fall in love with each book as we write it. But then when we’re having a love affair with a new story, that old book doesn’t look quite as appealing anymore. (One more reason never to stop with writing just one book!)
So what can we do to keep a balance in the love-hate relationship we have with our books? Here are just a few things I’m telling myself:
We’ll always find things we want to change.
Time and distance give us objective perspective (as I mentioned in: Can a Writer Salvage Early Manuscripts), but that also means we’ll continue to look at our stories with critical eyes, always finding words to fix. At some point, we have to know we gave it our best effort and then cut the ties. Let the discouragement be the impetus to work harder.
With each book we write, we should challenge ourselves to grow.
Yes, when you read The Preacher’s Bride, you may find some amateur writing. But I can have confidence that my next books will be even better. I’ve challenged myself to grow, pushed myself to try new things, made an effort to practice what I learn. So hopefully each book will appeal to readers even more. As my critique partner, Keli Gwyn told me, “If your second book is stronger than the first that's a good place to be. Some authors give the first everything, then disappoint readers with the next book.” If we’re not challenging ourselves to implement new writing skills with each book, then we might remain stagnant.
We need to surround ourselves with people who believe in us and can tell us the truth.
A few days after I sent the Galleys back, I got an email from a book buyer who’d read an ARC of my book. She told me she “really enjoyed the story” and that she was going to highlight my book as a “must-read Buyer’s Choice” in their Fall Fiction Catalog. Boy, did that email come at the right time! It served to remind me we’re often our harshest critics. We NEED others to join our writing journeys, those who aren’t afraid to be honest with us with the good and the bad.
Have you ever had a love-hate relationship with one of your books? Do you have times when you adore your book and then times when you can't stand it? What do you tell yourself to get through the discouraging times?