Good writing is rewriting ...
I have often written about my internal critic, that voice inside my head that tells me my writing is crap, that tries to convince me to give up, that tells me I will never succeed.
Most experts and experienced writers tell you to ignore that critic, make it go away. They even suggest making deals with the bugger, telling it to go away until after the first few drafts. I struggle with it. I can at times let it overwhelm me with fear and negativity.
I’m wondering now if I shouldn’t embrace my internal critic and start listening. No, I’m not thinking my writing is crap, well not today at least. But I have to admit there has been something bothering me for quite some time as I work on revisions of the first draft, or rather, don’t work on revisions of the first draft.
I have felt stuck, as I said, lots of fear, anxiety and generally feeling rather lost. But, I am starting to name what is bothering me. I have been reading more, particularly since giving up one of my part time jobs. A couple of books just for the fun of it (confession: I love Kathy Reichs’ books and devour them as soon as they are released). I also have been reading a couple of memoirs. I am in the midst of “Lit” by Mary Karr and recently raced through “Mennonite in a Little Black Dress” by Rhoda Janzen, which made me laugh aloud at times.
What I have realized is that I have not been honest, with myself or with my writing. I am a pleaser, have been for a long time. Want to fix things for other people, want everyone to be happy and particularly want people to like me and not be mad at me. So, I wrote my first draft, constantly editing myself so as not to piss anyone off. It stifles the writing, it makes the story flat and like I’m reporting it instead of living it.
I may be starting anew, writing honestly. I’m going to be making some people mad probably. I hope my family will understand that what I write is my story, my memories and my feelings, it is never meant as a judgment of them. There are others, people I long considered my friends in law enforcement who aren’t going to like what I write (and I don’t mean just because they don’t like my style of writing). I have to remind myself that my real friends, the people who should and do matter the most will understand and will support me in telling my story honestly.
Maybe I have reached this point partly because I have begun to examine what it really means when you talk about friends, who are friends and who are acquaintances? That, however, is another post for another day.
While my internal critic cannot keep me from writing, I think that maybe it was keeping me from being satisfied with not telling the story from my heart.
Starting over is not what I had in mind when I started the revision process, but then being content with something not good enough is not what I had in mind either.