Pretty good is not gonna cut it

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danielle100
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Pretty good is not gonna cut it

Post by danielle100 » June 1st, 2011, 11:53 am

Be advised that I plan to sulk for this post and it is mostly pessimistic and totally self-absorbed. But, please, join me.

I am slightly disappointed that people only think that my book thus far (chapter 3) is pretty good. I know those words because I've used them and pretty good is just a nice way of saying it was well... pretty good. In other words, it wasn't great. Which has brought me to a single realization. *Sighs* My book is no where near ready. In fact, it could be another year before it is. *Sighs again*

Frustration is sinking in. I can feel it like a cloud over my head and, baby, it's starting to rain. I tried to remedy this last night with a few glasses of wine, but that only resulted in tipsy tweeting and me lying face down on the floor blaring '90s music and reminiscing about the past.

If writing was all I did then I might not feel so frustrated. But like most of you, my life is jam packed with life stuff and I find it difficult to find the time to write. I need a quiet house. My son and husband need to be asleep or away. So, this process is going to take forever and a day.

Do any of you ever feel this way? Do you think I'm crazy? It's OK if you do.

So, what do I want people to come away with after reading my book? I guess I want to hear that they were entertained. I want to hear that they laughed. Am I having delusions of grandeur? It's not like I think I am worthy of joining the ranks of the great authors of our time and my book being added to the collection and placed next to Milton or Dante. I want people to like what they read. I want it to be upgraded to really good. And I think that the only way it will get there is if my critters are honest. If it's total crap, please tell me. I might have an extra glass of wine that night, but then the next day I will try harder.

*Sighs one final time*

Back to the salt mines

Danielle Spears
http://danielledspears.blogspot.com

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dios4vida
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Re: Pretty good is not gonna cut it

Post by dios4vida » June 1st, 2011, 12:07 pm

I don't think there's a single person on this forum who HASN'T felt this way. It seems to be a natural step in the creative process. We start out jazzed and ready for anything, but when we've put weeks, months, years into the book we inevitably start feeling like it'll never be good enough. I don't think we'll ever get to a point where we won't feel like our work is mediocre at best once in a while. It seems to come with the territory - be a writer, doubt your skills.

And unfortunately, there's only one way we'll get our writing from "pretty good" to "really good" and that's practice, practice, revise, practice some more, and edit your heart out. It's only through blood, sweat, and tears and we'll improve our stories to a point we can be happy with them. It might take years - I have no kids and no job and it still takes me over a year, sometimes two, to write a book. But I think that once we can step back and say "yeah, this is good!" and hear our critters say "that was great!" all of that time won't seem like a waste.

Keep trucking through, Danielle. You can do it. :)
Brenda :)

Inspiration isn't about the muse. Inspiration is working until something clicks. ~Brandon Sanderson

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Beethovenfan
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Re: Pretty good is not gonna cut it

Post by Beethovenfan » June 1st, 2011, 12:13 pm

I think most of us have been where you are. But it's important to remember why we do this writing thing everyday. Why do we close ourselves off from the world and sit at a tiny table and stare at a page or computer screen for hours? Why do we wrack our brains for that perfect word that will just make this sentance? We do it because we love it. Because our brains won't rest until that story is told. Then we keep going after the story is told because there are so many more stories to be told.

And...
Don't worry about what people think of the work you do. What really matters is what YOU think.
"Don't only practice your art, but force your way into its secrets, for it and knowledge can raise men to the divine."
~ Ludwig van Beethoven

danielle100
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Re: Pretty good is not gonna cut it

Post by danielle100 » June 1st, 2011, 12:16 pm

Thanks, Brenda, for the support! I swear that keeping that confidence is just as time consuming as the writing. I am constantly working on it. Maybe I am just thinking too much and over-analyzing things. I really need to just sit down, tell the nagging side of my brain to shove it, and start writing. :)

XOXO

danielle100
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Re: Pretty good is not gonna cut it

Post by danielle100 » June 1st, 2011, 12:20 pm

Beethovenfan- Very good advice! I am writing that on a sticky note and putting it on my computer so I can read it every day. You're so right: So many more stories to be told!

xoxo

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sierramcconnell
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Re: Pretty good is not gonna cut it

Post by sierramcconnell » June 1st, 2011, 12:22 pm

It's time for the talk.

http://www.nanowrimo.org/node/1065561

I read that everytime I feel like everything I wrote was crap and I should just stop being a writer. I read that when I think this is a waste of time and I'm never going to get done. I read that everytime I need a boost because I think I should just give up because I'm wasting my time.

The thing that stands out is this:

"Oh, you're at that part of the book, are you?"

We've all been there. I've been floundering in not working serious on book things after a year of working on book things every single minute and it turned me into a neurotic headcase. So honestly, I think although pretty good isn't going to cut it, it's better than "what the hell is this", which is something I've gotten in the past.

You're better than nothing, and close to that's something.

So think on that. ;3
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danielle100
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Re: Pretty good is not gonna cut it

Post by danielle100 » June 1st, 2011, 12:40 pm

sierramcconnell- Awe, I so needed that. I am definitely "at that part of the book." I plan to share this link with others and provide it in my blog post. It's something every writer should read. Thanks for the encouraging words!

xoxo

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polymath
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Re: Pretty good is not gonna cut it

Post by polymath » June 1st, 2011, 12:59 pm

Powering through the doldrums, waiting out the dog days, choosing when to sulk, when to throw a pity party, when to act more and talk less, each of these is a learning experience ripe for leading into better times ahead.

One, human beings, though indivisibly social beings, need time apart, and need the company that misery is. Two, self-realization grows from trial and error. Three, giving one's self permission to mess up, be messed up is the first baby step on a journey of a thousand leagues to full self-realization. Four, time spent struggling is time spent developing conscientious, critically conscious thinking faculties. I could go on at length. Some platitudes instead. A day is always darkest before the dawn. A quiet preceeds a tempest. There's light at the end of a stygian tunnel.

There is a powerful and liberating transcendence of being when the self-realization comes that the journey, for all its sorrows, miseries, rejections, and limited acceptances, is the reward. Discovering that one's hard won creation is not gonna cut it is but one step along the journey, maybe a wayside layover. It's just a phase. This too shall pass.
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danielle100
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Re: Pretty good is not gonna cut it

Post by danielle100 » June 1st, 2011, 1:31 pm

polymath- I appreciate your wise and beautiful words :) Thank you!

xoxo

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Quill
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Re: Pretty good is not gonna cut it

Post by Quill » June 1st, 2011, 1:32 pm

The only hope, I think, is to view writing as a life's work.

My life is packed, too, and I don't even want to admit how long I've been on my WIP. It can be frustrating sometimes to find the time for writing and realize how little it is and how long it could be until I get good enough/finish the story/edit/whatever.

I have to take it a day at a time, a week, a month, or go crazy. And try to quell my expectations of where I SHOULD be and when.

My advice is keep on inching, and learn to be happy with the process.

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Re: Pretty good is not gonna cut it

Post by trixie » June 1st, 2011, 1:37 pm

Danielle, my initial thought was "Who does she have reading this?" Are they fellow writers? Is it your neighbor? The mailman? A trusted crit partner?

I ask because "pretty good" would bother me as well. I'd want to know more. What did they like, where did they feel most interested? And my personal fave: what do they think is going to happen (might be too early for that one)?

If it's a crit partner, I don't know what to say that hasn't already been said. And Sierra's link is Spot. On. (Thanks for reminding me, Sierra!) But if you're looking for more substantial commentary, I recommend finding a crit partner through these forums. I know there's a link in one of the primary threads...

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Re: Pretty good is not gonna cut it

Post by sierramcconnell » June 1st, 2011, 1:55 pm

Source is definately important. I had one of my hypercritical friends read my first draft of my very first book and she crushed me, picking it apart for over twenty minutes. I didn't write for two years after that, too psychologically damaged by the "what the hell is this" and "do you honestly think people are going to want to read about a fifteen year old and a prince? What, is he some sort of choirboy or something?"

I mean, really, he's a slave. It happens. And what right did she have at the time to take the first half of my book and shred it like that?

And then, a few months later, she had the audacity to ask, "When can I read the next half?"

At least she was still thinking about it, still curious. It wasn't that bad then, huh?

I just looked at her, and my other friend snorted because she'd been there at the initial bitch tear down and couldn't understand it either. XD
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polymath
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Re: Pretty good is not gonna cut it

Post by polymath » June 1st, 2011, 2:07 pm

You're most welcome, danielle100. May you enjoy along the journey favoring winds and following seas. May the road rise up to meet you, and the dickens stay away. Although, though the hard times are more interesting and informative and once surpassed far more rewarding, may you live in interesting times. And welcome to the Bransforums, a supportive and encouraging arena for writers suffering the insuperable struggles of the good fight.
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Re: Pretty good is not gonna cut it

Post by Sommer Leigh » June 1st, 2011, 2:10 pm

You're looking at this all wrong! Pretty Good is GREAT. Especially if you aren't done. Especially if you haven't given it several rounds of edits and rewrites and received serious full manuscript critiques. Pretty Good means you've got a foundation that needs a lot less work than other people's first drafts. I'm assuming you are on a first draft, but even if you are on the second or third, pretty good is freaking fantastic.

The end result you are heading toward is WONDERFUL. ENTERTAINING. ENLIGHTENING. EMPOWERING. POWERFUL. AWESOME. But that's the end result. The end result of a lot of editing and rewrites. Before that, you have to be pretty good and most people start out a lot lower on the praise ladder. Pretty good means you've got something meaty and full of potential. Pretty good means you've got some natural talent. That's half the battle. Polishing and moving from pretty good to outstanding is a lot easier to do when you start out with something that is pretty good.

If you've finished a full draft, and you're getting comments like "pretty good," then I suggest taking your manuscript to some true critique partners (you can find them here on the feedback forums!) who can tell you what needs to be fixed to go from prettty good to outstanding. You need more than just people telling you how well you've done so far, you need someone who can be honest and tell you all the stuff that isn't so great - which will hurt at first. Be prepared for that initial hurt of seeing what you've not done well at. But think of where you will go when you take what was pretty good and fix the stuff that wasn't? THAT. That is your target. Keep that in your focus. Head straight for it. Don't. Stop. For. Anything.
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Cookie
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Re: Pretty good is not gonna cut it

Post by Cookie » June 1st, 2011, 2:14 pm

I just pulled myself out of the "OMG, THIS IS TERRIBLE!" phase. I got a lot of "pretty good" responses like that from my friends and family, and it always left me slightly disappointed. It wasn't until I found a beta partner that had the guts to rip into me, that I found the inspiration to change it. i know like my novel again, and am actually having fun editing and rewriting it.

Also, that post that Sierra posting is amazing. That has to be one of the most inspiring letters I have ever read. It also helped me through that phase.
You're looking at this all wrong! Pretty Good is GREAT. Especially if you aren't done.
I never thought of it that way. And I call myself an optimist. Geesh.

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