In the book “Bird by Bird” by Anne Lamont, there’s a funny scene about writers accepting criticism.
I’m paraphrasing here, but she describes how she has friends who read drafts of her books and then call her to give her feedback. She talks about how great it is that they’ve taken the time to thoughtfully read a draft and present ideas to her to make it better.
You would think she would graciously accept this help.
So, what really happens? She gets off the phone and stomps around the house, screaming that her friend doesn’t “get” anything and who asked her friend anyway and why is she cursed to be surrounded by idiots … and then, she sits down to make the edits.
I thought about this scene a lot this past year.
You see, I completed the first draft of “This Happened to Jessica” at the end of January 2018.
I was pretty excited, because it felt like I was on track for a summer launch of the first two books of the “Secrets of Redemption” series. Yay me!
I turned the book over to a couple of writer friends for their feedback, and while I waited, I worked on my novella “The Secret Diary of Helen Blackstone,” while also starting the third book in the series.
After a couple of months, one of my friends got back to me with her notes.
In a nutshell … she hated it.
It was brutal.
I was crushed.
And the worst part? Some of her criticism bled into what I had done with the first book.The best laid plans. Sometimes you just have to pause and slow down, even if it's not what you want to do. Even if it's wreaking havoc with those best laid plans. Click To Tweet
Suddenly, it was looking like I needed to do a pretty major edit on not one but two books.
(I immediately took my dog out for a walk and stomped my way through much of it.)
What was I going to do? How was I going to make my summer launch deadline?
I was really torn. On one hand, I had already put it out there that I was going to launch this series summer of 2018. And, I felt like for integrity sake, I really needed to honor that timeline.
Yet … the more I sat with my friend’s criticism, the more I realized she had a point. (Not all of it, of course … but yeah, some of what she was saying really was an issue.)
So, what to do? Delay the launch even though I had put the date out there? Launch the books even though the quality might not be where I wanted it?
In the end, I decided quality was the most important thing, even if it meant a small delay. (The first book was launched September 10, so it wasn’t that far off of summer.)
And, I must say, based on the reviews I’ve been getting for the first book, I’m thinking my choice was likely the best move.
I’d love to hear from you. What are your thoughts? Delaying and improving the quality,or honoring your word even if it means putting out work that isn’t your best?
(And don’t forget to check out the first book in the series “It Began With a Lie” right here.)
5 thoughts on “The Writing Journey: Sometimes You Have to Regroup (plus, an update on “This Happened to Jessica”)”
There is no doubt in my mind that you made the correct choice….what would happen to your integrity as an author if the deadline was really the only thing that mattered so you put out work that is just not good enough or definitely not your best, as long as you push it out on time. Tht sounds like a slippery slope to me and will eventually lead you to just wrirng any old thing as long as you get it out there on time. Sorry but I have a feeling you would find it hard to handle as your reputation for good work, gradually went downhill. Stick to what you know, put out your best work and if the deadline has to suffer once in a great while, at least you can be satisfied that you did you true best and anyone who complained would have made even more noise if the work had been shoddy too.
Of course! Quality first always! Your readers will appreciate that you took the time to give them your best work! That is much more important than some random date on the calendar.
Definitely made the wisest choice. You’re not likely to get repeat buyers if the first book they read isn’t your best work.
Definitely quality before deadlines. As pointed out above, it’s about author integtrity. There are more than enough books out there that have likely been hastily released, judging by both lack of writing quality and poor editing. That’s a major reason why, as a reader, I generally refuse to pay $6.50 or more for an e-book except in rare instances. Even if a story is good, I end up being annoyed & distracted by execrable editing.
I admire you for sticking to Quality versus deadline. Although I can imagine it wasn’t an easy choice to make since your word obviously means something to you.