Jeff O'Handley, Author

Jeff O'Handley

The Doubting Writer Finds His Voice

Love and Hate (of my words)

It is a sentiment held by many that familiarity breeds contempt. Indeed, there is plenty of reason for this to hold true. Quite often, a person we admire someone from afar turns out to be a total jerkwad when we get to know them. It’s a bit of a letdown, to say the least.

I find my view of my writing to be different, however. While POWERLESS–the manuscript formerly known as BARTON’S WOMEN–was out on its first round submissions, I pulled PARALLEL LIVES out of mothballs. I’ve probably explained this before, but the couple of newer things I was working on have sort of petered out a bit, and I feel very strongly about PARALLEL LIVES (maybe too strongly; we’ll soon see). And what happened? When I started reading it over–Blech. Yuck. This is HORRIBLE! What was I thinking?–you get the idea, I’m sure you’ve all been there before.

But I read it through and I made a lot of notes and I spent a good amount of time rewriting–and now I’m on the cusp of sending it off to Carrie to see what she thinks (commence nailbiting). By the time I got to the end of PL, I was once again in love with the manuscript, and again thinking, “This is good. Yeah, this is real good!” In this case, familiarity seems to breed esteem, not contempt.

Of course, POWERLESS came through a round of submissions and Carrie and I decided I should take another look at it and make some tweaks–and now I find myself reading it over and saying…you guessed it: Blech, yuck, this is HORRIBLE, what was I thinking?

I know that feeling won’t last. By the time I’m working through this manuscript I’ll feel much better about it than I do at this very moment. Part of it is the difference between reading with a critical eye and actually doing the nuts-and-bolts work of wordsmithing, which is infinitely more fun. Part of it is also because I know POWERLESS is good. As I worked through it last time before it hit the bricks in search of a home, I found myself thinking the same things I thought while finishing up PARALLEL LIVES the last couple of weeks: “This is good. This is real good!” It’s really just a matter of becoming more familiar with it.

Familiarity with my manuscript seems to weed out contempt. How about you?

Have a great weekend, all.

6 Responses

  1. Yeah, I'm going through this a lot right now. I'm nearing the end of my first major revision on the WIP. Some days I'm in love with it, other days I'm ready to quit writing. Gah! But thank goodness for do-overs. Those ugly parts can always be rewritten. And, yep, when I stand back and look at the big picture, I love this novel I'm working on. I must, or I wouldn't put myself through this every day. 😛

  2. I never like what I've written – even after 50 revisions. But I do recognize the need to stop revising eventually. I'm glad you're psyched with your new ms. Yay! 🙂

  3. Thanks everyone. L.G., glad you love what you're working on–it's always nice, isn't it? Sheena-kay, thanks for the good reminder. The goal has not changed! Lexa, yes, there comes a time to stop–I just don't think I'm quite there with this one yet! Thanks again!

  4. I think the EW, YUCK, BLEH, THIS IS HORRIBLE reaction is a sign of a good writer. If you can recognise that your work has room for improvement, then you have the potential to improve it. Without that recognition, it will only stay the way it is. Hope you can fall in love with your manuscripts all over again every time you rework them. Good luck! 🙂

  5. Thanks, Bonnee. I'm liking it better the more I get into it, and I do have ideas for how to (hopefully) make it even better.

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