I am not in the process of hating my own work, it’s just something that I’ve come across a few times over the course of working on my books and reading the internet. I think a lot of people encounter it, and I feel like it’s a good topic to go over. First, though, I’d like to say that From Ash is edited up (at least for the first round) and I might have the mock-up for the cover to show off come Monday. No promises, of course, I never know how long these non-writing artistic adventures of mine will take—usually longer than I expect.
Right, so, hating your own work. As I sort of mentioned above, this is something that I have been guilty of at least once per writing project. Usually, for me at least, the problem strikes somewhere in the middle of the book. It’s at that point where I’m starting to branch out from what I’d originally come up with as the plot, and all these cool ideas are starting to happen, and then for whatever reason, I decide it’s terrible. My writing hasn’t changed from how it was a few days before, it really hasn’t, but my brain sure thinks that it has. Most of the time this is followed by a few days of really terrible writing (in which I mean that I accomplish very little) until I can convince myself that, yeah, it’s actually pretty good.
This happened most recently with Black Gates, the comedy-fantasy Heaven/Hell book that’s still halfway finished on my hard drive. The fact that it’s half finished has more to do with the fact that I want to get Dreamstate II out at a certain time rather than me having abandoned it; I’ll get back to it as soon as I can. Anyways, I did an entire post (or two) on how I was rewriting Black Gates because I didn’t like how it turned out. I jumped the gun on this and ended up salvaging about three-fifths of what I’d originally written. Honestly, what the story needed was a little bit of polish, which I could have accomplished in edits.
I mention this rewrite because a lot of people do something far worse—they give up. I ended up rewriting the whole thing because I’m stubborn like that. I wanted it a certain way and I was going to just throw myself at the issue until it was resolved or I was dead (fortunately I survived the ordeal).
Like I said at the beginning of the post, I’ve seen a lot of people talking about how this is a major concern for them on various forums. I’ve even had a few real life friends come to tell me how they come up with these great ideas, write them down, and then think they’re stupid. More or less I tell them what I need to tell myself to get me through those bouts of self hate: it happens to the best of us, and very well might just be a natural part of the creative process. I don’t know the process for folks in the other fine arts, but due to the raging levels of alcoholism that seem to saturate the artistic world, I’d assume they have similar issues.
On a very similar point, I think a lot of the problems arise when people try to break their stories or ideas down into the most simple of definitions. Everything is going to sound stupid when you try to condense one hundred thousand words into one hundred. I think that I’ve spent about twenty hours trying to write the short little synopsis points that go on the back of my paperbacks and on seller sites. It’s awful, and unless you put in an ungodly amount of effort playing with each and every syllable, it will sound dumb; so don’t let that get you down. Write your book, paint your painting, sing your song; once it’s done and you can look at the whole picture then decide if you like what you see, and not a moment before.