I’m developing a theory at the moment. A theory that might be a bit unpopular, but I am convinced might be a good thing.
Hate can be healthy. For an author at least. I mean this in the sense that I have been going over some of my old work recently. Stories that I once championed and thought were the best thing in the world. We have to think of our stories this way while writing them, otherwise they would never get finished. I write because what I am working on when I am working on it is really cool inside my head.
Then I edit it. My love for it grows deeper. It might even come around to infatuation. “Wow! This is the best thing I’ve ever written,” is a common thing I sometimes say to myself.
Then…after a while (mostly after publishing) the bad reviews start to roll in. I get great ones. I get ones that are downright mean and I doubt a human being would actually say to my face. It’s just so much easier to say it through an anonymous computer screen.
Recently, I started editing old works. And the hate within myself starting coming out to play. My thoughts quickly drifted into the nature of “Why did I think this was worthy of other human eyes? Well, it’s not THAT bad actually. But it ain’t great. Eh…it’s good practice. Hopefully my new stuff is better.”
It turns into hate once in a while. Then I come around to the notion that you’re supposed to suck before you can be truly good at something. It’s all a part of the process. Then I have some people who send me messages saying they really liked something I wrote. And then I will think to myself, “Who cares if it’s not my best. If one person out there liked it, then it accomplished what I wanted it to accomplish.” And there is no other feeling like that. If my book gives one other person out there the feeling that I got while writing it, then my job was perhaps well done.
So here I sit, editing some of my old work (mainly because some nasty reviews told me that my editing skills are below par, but let’s be fair and realize that I am doing this alone). Thinking to myself, “Why do I look at this thing I once loved with loathing?”
I guess it means that I’m getting better. I try to remain proud of the work I accomplished, but it’s not always easy.
I think to get better as a writer, you need to love what you are writing while you’re writing it. To the end of the first draft. Then fall out of love for a little while. Just so you can see it through the eyes of someone who might not like it even in the slightest. Therefore, you can potentially make it better. My problem is that I look at it and have evil thoughts of unpublishing. If anyone ever hears of me doing that, slap me. Truly, slap me. Because I think that we need to suck before we can get better. It’s important to look at your work with an evil eye as much as it is to adore it.