By Ronda Simmons
On a personal note:
The time has come for me to step down from blogging for the Writing Bug. It’s been an incredible ride, and I am grateful to have had this experience. JC Lynne is a talented, funny, and kind editor. (Don’t tell her I said that.) I have learned volumes from this gig, and my heart is warmed by the folks who have told me they enjoy my posts. But it’s time for fresh voices to be heard and for me to move on to other adventures. If you want to follow along, check out my website: www.rondasimmons.com.
We are writers.
We outline. We plot. We choose a genre. We consider character arcs and backstory. We agonize over dialogue. We explore point of view, and setting, and where, exactly, does the story begin? What is the inciting incident? Who are the secondary characters? Or, if we’re writing non-fiction, how do we research? What do we explore? How do we write our truth without alienating our families? We gorge ourselves on all the glorious aspects of writing.
Eventually, however, it’s time to finish that manuscript and move on.
Writers often torture themselves trying to get the words right. Sometimes you must lower your expectations and just finish it. – Don Roff
The truth is we can make a career of revisions. Our writing will never be perfect. At a certain point, the time to call it “good enough” comes.
Terrifying! What if no one likes it? What if the reviews are bad? What if this precious manuscript makes no ripple in the great continuum? What if all that time was wasted?
How do we know when a work is finished? When you realize that your edits aren’t making the story better, just different. Agonizing over yet another draft could be what’s stopping you from starting something else. And that something else could be glorious.
Whatever it takes to finish things, finish. You will learn more from a glorious failure than you ever will from something you never finished. – Neil Gaiman
You may get rejections and poor reviews, your own glorious failures. No fun, but it’s part of the writing life. What you learn from this work will make your next one that much better. And that one will make the next one better, and so on.
It’s also possible that you will get good reviews. In the end, it doesn’t matter. Write what you need to write and get it done.
I went for years, not finishing anything. Because, of course, when you finish something, you can be judged. – Erica Jong
Successful writers do not let a bad review or poorly received work end their careers. Judgment almost always comes with some degree of pain, but that’s where the growth lies. Reviews can be humbling experiences. Writers need thick skins and the ability to rebound. Do not let the fear of a bad review prevent you from finishing, and don’t let a bad review end your career. It’s all a part of the game.
I put my money where my mouth is
I’ve decided to pull the trigger and publish my first book, The Potato Primer. As the September release date approaches, I find my terror growing. It may not do well. I’m okay with that. Okay, I’m not fine with that, but I know that I have much to learn, so I’m going into this experience with an open mind.
I don’t think it’s perfect. I could spend another 6 months fiddling with the text. But the time has come to decide: am I doing this or not? I decided to press the publish button and send it out into the world to sink or swim.
Finishing a book is just like you took a child out in the backyard and shot it. – Truman Capote
I finally understand what Capote was talking about. I’ve nurtured this manuscript for a long gestation. I’m going to miss it. It was my baby, and I watched it grow into what it is today. Whatever happens, I finished a book, and that’s something.
You can do it, too.