Losing Perspective on Your Writing: Does This Sing or Suck?

Photo via Marcus Vegas (flickr cc)First, before we get into today's topic, I want to let everyone know that I'm going to be on the Bring Back Desire After Dark radio show tonight online. So if you'd like to hear me talk about fun stuff like--how may parents feel about my writing, how I do my research, and what I think are secrets to a good marriage, I'd love for you to tune in. It will air at 10pm Central/11pm Eastern. If you can't be there tonight, the show will be archived and available in a day or two. : )

Okay, onto today's topic--losing perspective. This morning I discovered the good news that my next release in my series, FALL INTO YOU, has gotten a great review in RT Magazine--4 1/2 stars which is the highest you can get AND is the highest I've ever gotten on either of the previous books. Here are a few quotes from the review:

"Steamy, occasionally shocking, and relentlessly intense..."

"Loren's real triumph is the way the BDSM initiation and training reveal the nuances of each main character, from their darkest pleasures to their deepest fears."

"Heart-wrenching and blisteringly sexy..."

So why am I quoting this review (beyond the fact that I'm excited and want to share)? I'm sharing it because this proved to me that I have no valid perspective on my writing at this point. I think all writers swing back and forth between hating the book they're writing and thinking they're brilliant. It's a natural thing. We usually aren't right on either extreme. 

But I find the more books I write, the more insecurity creeps in. You'd think it'd be the opposite. But alas, it isn't. I was so nervous about seeing that review for FALL INTO YOU. It was the first book I ever had to write under a tight deadline, I struggled with the story, and I had to do a pretty major revision on my heroine (to the tune of 20k new words) in about a week. So I had all this anxiety that this book wasn't going to be received as well as the others. I couldn't even judge it anymore from my own perspective--is this great or does it suck? I just had to put trust in my editor that she wouldn't let me put out a bad book and would tell me if it sucked, lol.

So seeing that first review come out is a relief. And my anxiety hasn't just been about that book. When it was time to turn the first version of NOT UNTIL YOU to my editor, I sent it Sara (my agent) first with a note of--please read this before I send it to my editor because I'm not sure if it's any good and I don't want to send her crap and blah blah blah. Sara reads it and sends back: "This is my most favorite thing you've ever written."


Yes, I have apparently lost perspective and have been overtaken by writer insecurity. Luckily, right now it's in a good way--I think it sucks but it actually doesn't. Thank God.

But as a writer, you also have to be aware of the flipside. And for those out there feverishly typing away for NaNo or penning your first novel, this is one to keep in mind. Our writing can also look a lot better to us than it actually is. I remember writing my YA when I first began writing seriously and I thought that book rocked. I had confidence and queried it like mad. And though I did get a few requests here and there, it ultimately was rejected across the board.

Why? Because it wasn't good enough. I wasn't ready. But I didn't realize that yet. It took getting out into the writing community, picking up beta readers, learning craft, etc. before I could look back and think--Holy shit that book was bad! Thank God I didn't have self-pubbing available to me at the time because I would've freaking embarrassed myself.

So try to remember you're probably never as good or as bad as you think. And don't live on an island. Before you put your work out there, send it to quality beta readers (not your family who loves you and can't be unbiased), work with an editor if you can, get a little distance from it. And on the flipside, when you think you're writing complete junk, don't get discouraged. We all feel like we're writing junk at some point (or at lots of points) in any draft. I'm learning it's part of the process. We're an insecure bunch, we writers. ;)

Have you ever lost perspective on your own work? Do you have trouble judging what's good and bad in your own writing? What outside sources to you use to get feedback?