I am currently plagued by the letter ‘R’. Yes, that’s right, as in the alphabet. Before you decide I have lost the blog post plot let me explain. The following words start with this letter: relationships, reviews, rewrites, redo, re-upload, re-wind, release, and reputation, revising, rebellion and let’s not leave out revolution because that is usually what happens when you rebel (I’m considering it). All of these words have been present in the conversations I have had whether in person, by email or phone, or in my head. Hey, writers are allowed to have conversations in their heads.
A new young friend I have met through blogging recently commented that writing is hard. Writers often state the obvious so the brain can get the message. It clarifies at the most basic level. It is a statement we make, as I also found out (I agreed with her) just before we start doing what is required to fix what made us stop, and think what we were doing was hard. Hence my war with the ‘R’ words makes sense. We re-look at our work. A writer will reread, revise and redo by rewriting. For a self-published author (eBooks) it will then require a re-upload so we can re-release and maintain our reputation and thereby our relationship with our readers (all on our own).
If like me you plan to also go to print you may then have to repeat the whole process (leaving out the re-upload of course). Why do we do it? Are we insane? Probably. The truth is though that any job requires dedication. And writers, well we are already out there exposed so we might as well do the best we can. If improving means using the ‘R’ words then I guess that’s what I will have to do, and then hopefully reviews will come and create a revival in interest.
For me reviews are invaluable whether written or offered verbally. I am not talking about a critique. A critique is generally part of study and is clinical, detailed with discussion on alternatives or changes in the text. Whilst a review may share some of those elements it is more to give the reader an indication of whether the reading experience will be a pleasant one. I think it’s important for writers to have people review about whether they like, get angry at, hate, fall in love with the characters, or whether they question motivation in the novel the reader is presented with. Having somebody react emotionally means a connection has been made. For a writer that is a gift, a perfect moment in an often rocky environment.
Of course reviews will touch on grammar and formatting, cohesion, flow of writing, and originality. Sometimes though no matter how hard we try errors slip through and yes they must be addressed. I want to rebel and start a revolution about the hard work involved in re-doing but I am a reader too, and I want my reading to be done in elegantly flowing words and characters that grab my heartstrings and play me like a violin concerto. A very wise teacher I knew a long time ago, told me that a good teacher never forgets what it is like to be the student. Likewise the writer must honour the reader inside them in a manner as realistically possible as they can.
Above all, we need to remember the more effort we make to be better, the happier our reader relationships, and surprisingly there is also personal gain. Sue Woolfe says in the Newsbite publication dated 5th December 2016 (NSW Writers Centre) that when “we write a novel, the brain develops and builds new mural pathways as we learn to use a new voice and discover our characters. Our brains record the kind of work we do, and how we do it. Artists aren’t born, they’re made. We’re made by our work.” I honestly believe this to be true of whatever work or interest we choose to pursue. We are made by our work. So I guess this mean back to the drawing board otherwise known as the manuscript to revisit what I am currently working on, and perhaps I need to have a very hard re-look at what I have already done.
In the meantime if you can find it in your hearts to please read my book and comment, it would help my work immensely as would comments on my blog post.
Till next time