Saturday, January 9, 2010

Can you fall out of love with your own child?

I tweeted this just a moment ago. What I've found is this: I no longer love The Pacific Between. I'm still proud of what I accomplished, and I still believe in the book, but I cannot bring myself up to tell people how good it is, or that they should read it. I find myself unable or, even, unwilling to promote it.

Is it a sign of my fickleness? Or have I detached from the book for so long that it no longer feels personal and special to me? Actually, I shouldn't say that. It is and will always be special to me: It's my first (and only, so far)! What I mean is that I no longer think it's the best thing in the world, or that I should run around telling people how good it is. When people ask me about my books, I find myself not wanting to talk about The Pacific Between. Instead, I'm more inclined to tell them what I'm working on, and how excited I am with the story and characters.

It'd be like a parent not wanting to talk about her first-born, but instead care more about her the unborn child in the womb.

Is this normal?

Recently, I reread part of The Pacific Between, and I could already find many things I would love to change. Part of it does show how green, as a writer, I was. I would cringe at some passages and wish I could wave a magic wand and make them go away. I would rewrite a good portion of the book if I could. Over all, I still like the story but I felt that it should have been a novella instead of a full-lenght novel.

Am I too critical? Sometimes I feel like I was reading the story I wrote when I was 14 years old, and I'd feel embarrassed. I'd feel uneasy at the thought that readers are reading the book, now.

On the other hand, I'm happy to realize that I've grown as a writer, that I could see the flaws and faults in my own creation, that I'm detached from my work enough to give it a more objective analysis. Still, this sense of "perfectionism" troubles me as well. Deep down I understand nothing is going to be perfect. 10 years from now, I'd read The Terrapin's Trail and find it amateurish as well. Should that stop me from working on it now? Should I wait until I'm much older and wiser to tackle that project? Will I ever be satisfied with my own work?

Who says writers are not tortured souls?




3 comments:

Chumplet - Sandra Cormier said...

I feel the same way about The Space Between. It's a sweet little story, but I wrote it 3 years ago when my writing skills had potential but were still raw. It wouldn't be in my best interest to actively promote it.

I'd still like to see Bad Ice revamped and republished by a larger house, since nobody can buy it here in Canada except by mail order.

The Toast Bitches is another matter. It was thrown together in a hurry because of unusual circumstances, and I would love to have spent more time with The Bitches.

That is water under the bridge and I'm forging ahead with the book I finally polished after 3 years of honing my craft.

We'll always look back with some regret, but it's best to look forward with confidence.

Think of your next book as your child, except more grown up.

Ray Wong said...

Yea, definitely. I, too, would like to rewrite TPB and republish it with a bigger house. Maybe if/when I get a big contract I can piggyback that in the deal... LOL -- I mean, Grisham was able to republish A Time To Kill (although I don't think he rewrote it).

K.M. Weiland said...

I relate. In fact, I have a feeling *most* authors relate. The fact that we're growing and evolving as artists is a fantastic thing - but it's still disconcerting and a bit painful to look back at the stories we once loved and realize we're now slightly repulsed by them.