Tuesday, January 1, 2013

The Panic of Publication

by: R.G. Emanuelle

When I first put my fingers on the keyboard to write this blog, I was in a little bit of a crash mode. I had just returned from a trip out of town (with a less-than-stellar return trip), was in a frenzy of cooking for Thanksgiving, and had the holiday itself to deal with. Tucked into this chaos were the proofs for my first novel, Twice Bitten, due out in January 2013.

I’m not sure if all the other stuff going on around me was good or bad while I did my review. See, I began going through that first-novel panic—that overwhelming desire to rewrite the entire thing because every paragraph, every scene, every chapter seems inadequate and in desperate need of eloquence. But it could also be that the stresses of travel and holidays had me on hyper-sensitivity mode. (This blog wound up getting pushed to the side and only got completed just before Christmas.)

I talked about this author phenomenon quite a bit—on Facebook, Twitter, and other blogs—and many writers told me that they knew what I was going through. But they also told me that after a while, after the proofs had been returned and the book was printed and some healing time went by, they came around to loving their work again. I guess it’s like some people’s experience with a child that has rebelled—they’re angry with the child but after the child has matured, they develop a positive relationship with them.

This phenomenon is not unique to writing. I was discussing this with my brother, who was a filmmaker and has been involved in other artistic endeavors, and he expressed similar thoughts. He said that any kind of artistic venture comes with a “never-quite-satisfied” attitude and there will always be a measure of insecurity about what we create. I added that you also have to be willing to accept the fact that once it’s out there, there’s nothing you can do about it.
Not that this is new to me. I’ve always known that for a writer, nothing is ever really finished. (You know I’m right!) Many writers will not read their own work after it’s published (unless it’s being re-published in another market) because it would be a never-ending cycle of rewriting and rewriting. There is some wisdom to that because for some of us, it’s a form of torture and why subject ourselves to it?

Of course, I don’t speak for all writers. I’m sure that some of you read your work post-publication and are completely satisfied with it. And to you, I say, “Auguri! (That’s Italian for “hooray!” Well, sort of.) But for those of us who are our own worst critics, it’s kind of nightmarish.
However, by the time I got back around to this blog, guess what? My books had arrived on my doorstep! I think they look great and I have no intention of opening one up, except to sign to autographs. Maybe one day, my book and I will come to an understanding.
Until then, I’ll just focus on my work in progress.

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  1. I know just what you mean, RG! Good comments!
    Happy New Year,
    ;-) Lori

  2. I'm with you, RG, I don't want to re-read my books! But when you're writing a series, sometimes you have to re-read your old books so you can remember what your characters have been up to, and how tall they are and what color their eyes are and on and on. I find parts of my books adorable, but other parts I just itch to rewrite.

  3. Hi R.G.,
    Enjoyed reading your blog, mostly because it made me feel better. I've have the same issues. I would edit and re-write my books forever if I didn't make myself stop. An author I admire once told me that at some point you simply have to declare it done and say so be it. Seems I'm never satisfied I did my best. I can't bear to read my books when they're finished and even when I have to proof the PDF, I dread having to read what I wrote. I waver anywhere from "Wow...that was brilliant" to "What was I thinking?". It is torture, no doubt about it.

    1. Thanks, ladies. I'm glad to see that I'm not alone in my agony. :-)