On the Joys of Being Wrong

Dcp_0384I literally just bought this computer a month ago, so it’s very important that I not punch the screen. I’ve had to remind myself of this a few times today, because I got about halfway through my latest book and decided that my whole concept is incredibly stupid. The plot isn’t any good, the characters are unlikable, the premise is borderline offensive – oh, God, what am I even doing trying to get this abomination to market?

I had no interest in the actual answer to that question: I was doing the same thing that my readers loved last time, and the time before that, and the time before that. Nobody in the midst of a Very Important Writing Crisis wants to hear that they’re doing just fine. If we’re doing just fine, then we’re completely wrong about all the horrible things we’ve been saying about our work, and I have never met a writer who will just accept being wrong when they have their blood pumping.

So, instead of continuing to wring my hands and berate my poor little novella, I went fishing. I got the first mosquito welts of the season, I aggravated my chest cold, and I didn’t land a thing longer than my ring finger, and it was fantastic. I got to ruminate on the weather, on keeping my lure out of the weeds, on the exact identity of that smell coming from behind that concrete thing – in short, on anything but my Very Important Writing Crisis.

When I returned, it was as if a miracle had happened. I could pinpoint one spot – a dialogue between two characters that doesn’t last 250 words – that had created the sense of weakness I had about the whole narrative. With a few lines deleted and a few lines added, I had the passage carrying the information it needed to get across. It turned out that I was wrong about the Very Important Writing crisis I’d been having, and I was distracted enough that I could finally shrug and say, “yeah, okay” about it.

It doesn’t always take a fishing trip to resolve my Very Important Writing Crises. Sometimes, cleaning the kitchen or taking a dance break (or both at the same time!) will get me removed enough from my pity party that I can take a more objective look at the piece. I’m sure different people have different things that work for them – the important thing is that you eventually accept that you are, in this instance, wrong.