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Is this another rant? Possibly.
Actually, it's one of my little wake up call articles. I know how you all love those. The writer ego is big and it is hungry, and sometimes it consumes our common sense. Now and then, we need to take it off, put it away, and really look at how other people see us.
Recently, a publisher asked if I was willing to make edits on a story I submitted. I was like, "Duh. Of course I am." Said publisher mentioned, briefly, that sometimes the author is reluctant to work with an editor, so they were just checking how I felt about it before proceeding.
Back up a little bit here. Are some of you seriously so wrapped up in yourselves that you'd refuse to allow someone (who knows what they're doing) to make your story better? Are there so many of you special snowflakes out there that the question of willingness to edit has to be asked? Good grief, kids. Get your shit together.
Special Snowflakes are what I like to call sensitive writers who can’t handle a critique or give the impression they’re some fancy-ass artist that only an insanely stupid person would dare to edit. They annoy me. They bring down the rest of us with their dramatic bullshit, and frankly, I’m getting tired of it. So, let’s all agree to take a step back and really look at what we have to offer the publishing world.
The truth is none of us are writing anything that hasn’t been written before. We make it fresh with new characters, different perspectives, or by blending this plot with that, but every basic plot has been done many times by all the authors that came before us. Keep that in mind when you start feeling like a perfect little bitch.
I see you’re a little upset with me. That’s okay. I get the special snowflake sickness occasionally too. We all do, and that’s part of the process. Let’s be honest here. Writing is a demonstration of ego. We believe our imagination holds such magnificent secrets and ideas, we must write them down. We encourage others to enjoy what we’ve written, and wait for congratulatory pats on the back once our words are out in the world. It’s not surprising that in this industry, ego is a bit of a problem.
As I mentioned before, I was asked by a publisher if I was willing to make edits. My first reaction was, “Why wouldn’t I?” It seemed a strange question to ask me, but after speaking with the publisher and then a few writer and editor friends, I realize it’s something a few editors are doing before offering a contract now, because, apparently, some of you aren’t willing to improve your work, because you think… I don’t know what goes through your heads in this situation. Maybe you think it ruins your “vision,” or maybe you think using an editor’s suggestions somehow makes it more theirs and less yours. Whatever your reasons, ask yourself if they’re based in ego or common sense. Editors aren’t always right, but in my experience, they’re rarely wrong. I take every edit/suggestion seriously, and I generally use most of them, because I know I’m not perfect, and I know the process of writing the damn thing gives me tunnel vision. It’s tough to see the bigger picture the way an editor can see it.
And accepting this doesn't make you less special or talented. Actually, it makes you a professional.
I’ve also noticed writers who get seriously butt hurt over a bit of criticism from readers. This is another thing we have to examine more closely. It is a review; an opinion. It is not a statement about your worthiness as a person or a writer. If a reader thinks you bombed, well you did, with her. Doesn’t mean your story is a disaster, but the reader is entitled to an opinion. If you didn’t win her over, you didn’t. Either pull up your socks and do better the next time, or let it go. Most of the time, the review isn't about you. It's about the reader. Just take a breath, and let it be.
There’s nothing wrong with confidence. Nothing wrong with believing in yourself or being proud of what you’ve written. There is, however, something wrong when you start to believe you’re better than everyone else. You’re not. No one is. We all have something that makes us great and we all have flaws that make us not so great. If you’re able to see the flaws, then you’re ahead of the game.
We should all know our strengths, and be proud of them, but it’s also important to know our limitations, because it’s the only way we’ll improve. So please, let's take our heads out of our ass and stop with the snowflaking.