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The Craft > do you hate your own book?

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message 1: by John (new)

John Khoury | 21 comments Recently I’ve decided to adopt a hip-hop attitude to my writing, like “I’m the greatest author of all time”. And sometimes I read my book and genuinely think it’s awesome. Other times I think it stinks and this is going nowhere. This is just my personality – I am riddled with doubt. Some people seem to be free of this affliction. I know that the only way forward is in fact the hip-hop attitude, but every now and then I want to honest and vulnerable. I’ve always been fascinated with artists who put down their own work. Like I love a song, and then I read the artist say “oh, that song sucks”. What a perverse situation.

I know it’s natural to have moments of doubt and disgust at your work, but curious what others go through.


message 2: by Emma (new)

Emma Jaye | 80 comments I think you'd be weird if you didn't doubt yourself at least some of the time.
If you always think you are wonderful, it says a hell of a lot more about you, than it does your work.
You teach, so do you think you're a fantastic teacher? All the time?
Perhaps every sentence of your book isn't the best it could possibly be, but at some point, you have to let it fly on its own, just like the people you teach and move on to the next class.
Just like the song writer you mention did. Still the song was probably damn successful.


message 3: by K.A. (new)

K.A. Krisko (kakrisko) I don't hate them, but I never want to read most of them ever again. I've read my own books more times than I've ever read any other book, and I'm sick unto death of them. Also sick of the characters and the worlds in some cases.


message 4: by John (new)

John Khoury | 21 comments @E: it probably would be weird to always think you're wonderful, but I wonder if it would be effective. Know what I mean?

@K.A. - I know exactly how you feel. But there are even times when I reread my book and love it.


message 5: by Kit (new)

Kit | 5 comments If I hated it, I wouldn't let it out of the house. Really!


message 6: by Carmen (new)

Carmen Amato (authorcarmenamato) | 73 comments I am enthusiastic about all my books and characters, but only when they are done. During the writing process I worry that there isn't enough action (all are mysteries and thrillers) or that the dialogue is too bland. Usually by the 5th round of edits I start to get excited. By the publication date I am pretty happy and thankfully, so far that feeling has lasted.


message 7: by M.G. (new)

M.G. Bianco (mgbianc) I sometimes love and sometimes hate the same book, depends on which day I'm reading it I guess.

To combat that, I meet with a group of fellow writers. We have a liturgy for our meetings. We start with dinner, then we each share a passage from a book (usually just a paragraph or two) that we've been reading, one that highlights some particular aspect of the author's writing that we like. We discuss those. Then we might spend some time discussing writing in general. The last hour or so we share excerpts from our own writing and we discuss. All of us are vulnerable during this time, so we tend to be very careful to offer feedback that is helpful. Usually, I find the stuff I love (of my own work) they like less than I do, and the stuff I hate they tend to love.

One might think that it would make me not trust the opinions of my fellow writers in the group, but it doesn't. One, their own writing is so good that I can't not trust them. Two, their reasons for liking/disliking my work are always well thought out, and I end up agreeing with them. It has done wonders for helping me to be a better write (and to write with greater consistency). I'd recommend starting a writer's group if you have fellow writers in your local community.


message 8: by Carmen (new)

Carmen Amato (authorcarmenamato) | 73 comments M. G. Your group's format sounds terrific. What a wonderful support group!


message 9: by John (new)

John Khoury | 21 comments @M.G. That difference between what you like and what others like (and vice-versa) is fascinating. What it shows is the need for peer review, but also just beta readers (not necessarily authors). It shows that, at some point, you cannot judge your work very accurately. To me, there is such a thing as being "too close to it all".

@Kit, that's great that you like your work - I can't say I'm that confident with it all. I always feel there are parts that could be better and then think "this is as good as it gets for me". Maybe if I spent another 10 years writing it, but I don't think the result would be worth the effort. At some point, you just say "that's it" and move on, as E. said.

@Carmen... hmm. 5th or 6th edit. I'm on 4. And after each draft I think it's great, then I come back to it a month later and think it needs work again... writing is fun! ha ha!


message 10: by Emma (last edited May 08, 2014 07:21AM) (new)

Emma Jaye | 80 comments Don't think I could do that, read a passage from my book out, especially at a dinner party.
For one I hate public speaking of any sort, for two, my books are erm, more than a little spicy.


message 11: by [deleted user] (new)

I have a love/hate relationship with my upcoming book - the editor has Americanised all the spellings, for one thing - and the fight I had to keep some of the phraseology has left a bitter taste in my mouth.


message 12: by Charles (new)

Charles Garard (goodreadscomcharles_garard) | 142 comments Spicy huh? Sounds enticing.


message 13: by Rachael (new)

Rachael Eyre (rachaeleyre) | 44 comments I do like my books, but I'm amazed at how much people prefer the first to the second, despite the second being (in my opinion anyway) a much better book. The first is clearly a debut novel, and if I was writing it now, there's tons I would change. Just goes to show, you can never predict which way people will jump.

And yes, I'd be mortified to read my books aloud. There are too many steamy passages for comfort!


message 14: by Martin (new)

Martin Gibbs My very first fantasy book was going to be the next Eye of the World. It was so unique and amazing and wonderful and awe-inspiring.

Then I read it, like a reader would. Ugh. Full of bad dialogue, long-winded descriptions of terrain, and a character I'm not sure anyone would like. Even if he was the anti-hero.

So yes, one can dislike their work. But instead of dwelling on what an amateur work it was, I kept on writing, building and learning.

I even think I may have salvaged that original garbage, by pulling out the main thread I thought would sell it, and creating a standalone tale.

Hate's a strong word. If you hated your work and yourself that much, then why are you doing this? Keep growing, learning, improving!


message 15: by John (new)

John Khoury | 21 comments Martin wrote: "My very first fantasy book was going to be the next Eye of the World. It was so unique and amazing and wonderful and awe-inspiring.

Then I read it, like a reader would. Ugh. Full of bad dialogue, ..."


Thanks for your input, Martin. You're absolutely write (catch that?) not to dwell. I don't hate my work or myself, I just want it to be the best it can be and get annoyed at that hard path. But I'm trying to be patient.


message 16: by Jack (new)

Jack Knapp | 778 comments Mod
Martin, patience is indeed a virtue. And I certainly envy all who have the time to be patient.
But I came to writing late in life. Lots of past, future uncertain but probably not long in terms of years.
So it's do it now or it won't get done. I 'push' because that deadline, a real one, gets closer every day.
Morbid? Nope, realistic. I'm a happy, reasonably healthy 74 year old. I write because I want to.
But every day that future is a little smaller...


message 17: by Jack (last edited May 09, 2014 08:53AM) (new)

Jack Knapp | 778 comments Mod
Charles wrote: "Spicy huh? Sounds enticing."
I began writing for a group whose authors are more than a little spicy, even though my novels aren't. I tried it, found I was uncomfortable even with the toned-down, never explicit, short story I posted.
So now I treat sex in an offhand manner; it happens, a comment to establish that there's a relationship, then move on.
Perhaps it's perspective. So little remains, even memory, of those frantic few seconds of gratification; but what of the other things that last for years? Relationships, good or bad, with other people? Deeds you've done, seen done?
So that's what I write. Could I read it aloud? Sure. My grandsons, later possibly my granddaughter, will read the books. With my name on the cover. So will my friends and other relatives.
And I no longer need the pen name, even though it's still available and I even won an award for writing under that name! I'm more comfortable writing as who I am, not someone I pretend to be.


message 18: by Martyn (new)

Martyn Halm (amsterdamassassinseries) | 248 comments John wrote: "I know it’s natural to have moments of doubt and disgust at your work, but curious what others go through..."

I must be unnatural. I feel neither doubt nor disgust towards my own work.


message 19: by Kevin (new)

Kevin (kevinhallock) | 86 comments Martyn (a.k.a. M'sieur Sang Froid) wrote:
I must be unnatural. I feel neither doubt nor disgust towards my own work."


Me too. I like what I published and enjoy what I'm working on now.


message 20: by Pamela (new)

Pamela Beverly (writesistah) | 41 comments I won't say that I hate mine but when I was in the process of proofreading and editing it so much that I got to the point where I couldn't stand it for a while!


message 21: by [deleted user] (new)

Exactly,Pamela!!!


message 22: by Kevin (new)

Kevin (kevinhallock) | 86 comments I've come to enjoy editing too, although admittedly reading my editors comments is always difficult the first time through. I never enjoy killing my darlings. :) But, the final product is so much better that the process has grown on me.


message 23: by John (new)

John Khoury | 21 comments Martyn (a.k.a. M'sieur Sang Froid) wrote: "John wrote: "I know it’s natural to have moments of doubt and disgust at your work, but curious what others go through..."

I must be unnatural. I feel neither doubt nor disgust towards my own work."

what do you feel?


message 24: by John (new)

John Khoury | 21 comments Pamela wrote: "I won't say that I hate mine but when I was in the process of proofreading and editing it so much that I got to the point where I couldn't stand it for a while!"

yes!


message 25: by John (new)

John Khoury | 21 comments I'm editing the book again now.

There are parts I think stink but are necessary and I don't know how to make them better. There are parts that I like but think other people will hate. And there are parts that I think are brilliant. I guess it's also the nature of what I'm writing, and the nature of how I'm writing it (which is just an expression of who I am).

Anyway, thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts.


message 26: by Kristi (new)

Kristi Cramer (kristicramer) | 84 comments John, try to find a writer's group, or form one. Peer feedback is critical if you can't see the forest for the trees. You can do it via emails, if not in person.

I'd suggest Scribophile, but while it is nice in part because it is online and therefore as anonymous as you want it to be, you must also spend a bit of time reviewing the work of strangers to get enough 'credit' to have your work looked at.

I go through phases myself, usually directly related to how many times I've gone through the passage, but ultimately I end up pleased. My beta readers and editor usually end up confirming that it is indeed worth publishing.


message 27: by John (new)

John Khoury | 21 comments Kristi wrote: "John, try to find a writer's group, or form one. Peer feedback is critical if you can't see the forest for the trees. You can do it via emails, if not in person.

I'd suggest Scribophile, but while..."

Ah, thanks for the tip, Kristi, never heard of that site.


message 28: by Karl (new)

Karl (karlandrewshann) | 2 comments I doubt the structure of every sentence I scribble down, and eventually just close the copy in which I am writing the book and try to accept that my dream of becoming an author is nothing but a childish obsession and that ill just have to become a drug dealer and this makes me very very sad


message 29: by John (new)

John Khoury | 21 comments thanks for opening up like that, Karl ;-)


message 30: by Karl (new)

Karl (karlandrewshann) | 2 comments :-)


message 31: by Martyn (new)

Martyn Halm (amsterdamassassinseries) | 248 comments John wrote: "Martyn (a.k.a. M'sieur Sang Froid) wrote: "I must be unnatural. I feel neither doubt nor disgust towards my own work."

what do you feel?"


I love writing. I feel excitement when I wrote a good scene and I imagine the effect it will have on the reader. I enjoy plotting a story so that things mesh in a way the reader cannot predict.

I've been writing for over twenty years. If I had doubted my ability to craft a good story and if I'd be disgusted by what I wrote, I'd have chosen a different path. Maybe even considered if I wanted to be a storyteller.

In the first few years I sometimes felt dismay when I analyzed my work and realised I'd have some serious rewriting to do before I could show my work to anyone, but that's only natural when acquiring a new skill.

I recently took up tango dancing lessons and the first few lessons were tough, but I never doubted that I would succeed in learning how to dance the tango. Nor did I feel disgust at the mistakes I made learning the basic steps of the tango.

Writing has many different aspects. I hear people loathe editing and rewriting, but I love it. My first drafts are creative but a mess, I shape the story in the editing process. I hear people complaining of running out of ideas, I have more ideas than I can use. I've written for decades, but I never considered it 'work'. Instead I consider writing a 'labour of love'.

I respect your opinion and your feelings, John. But I don't agree that doubt and disgust towards one's labour of love is 'natural'.


message 32: by Bronwen (new)

Bronwen Griffiths | 9 comments I think it's like you family and your loved ones - sometimes you love them to bits and other times you can't bear the site of them - but hopefully you see it through the good and bad times and stay loyal!


message 33: by Willow (new)

Willow Sanders (willowsanders) | 5 comments I love the process of writing- the feeling of flying as your hands try to keep up with your brain... but like you- there are times where I have to talk myself away from the "delete" key in completely debilitating moments of self-doubt where I read through chapter after chapter and think "oh my God this is complete crap"

I love the discussion of writers groups- unfortunately for me anyway, the handful of groups that are local I haven't found to be all that useful. :-/


message 34: by Don (new)

Don Ledger (goodreadscomdonledger) I'm sure most writers have sections of their books they would rather have not written. But that's why editing was invented. One of my biggest problems is getting bored after going over the novel to edit it and sharpen it up. After ten or twenty times you start to think that "Damn this is boring. Who would read this?"
You have to keep in mind that your prose if new and fresh to the first time reader.


message 35: by Willow (new)

Willow Sanders (willowsanders) | 5 comments True. The book I just published sat on a shelf for a few years (for various reasons) but that break from the story allowed me to view it with new eyes and fix things I probably wouldn't have noticed back when I wrote it


message 36: by Jack (new)

Jack Knapp | 778 comments Mod
Something to consider: I 'published' on a free site, the draft version. I did this using a pen name.
But now I'm publishing under the same name I sign my checks with, so I wouldn't feel good about recommending my book, with my name on the cover, to folks who've known me since I was a baby. If they like it, you're gold, but if they don't, your reputation among family and friends takes a huge drop. You're only as good as your latest whateveryou'vedone.
I don't know how you could do that if you don't like your work.
For that matter, if you aren't happy and proud of your effort, why would you write or publish it?


message 37: by Don (new)

Don Ledger (goodreadscomdonledger) Willow wrote: "True. The book I just published sat on a shelf for a few years (for various reasons) but that break from the story allowed me to view it with new eyes and fix things I probably wouldn't have notic..."

Recently an older book of mine came into the public eye and I was called by several TV news people for comments about another event similar to that in my book. As a result I had to read my own book to catch up. I was surprised at how much I'd forgotten. Decent read though...I was impressed:) I was 14 years younger though. I'm certain however that my brain was somewhat sharper than it is now.
We writers are a weird lot, let's face it. We are often our worst critics but I think that is a healthy thing.


message 38: by John (new)

John Khoury | 21 comments So, I'm back on this after some time away. When I posted this originally I was busy editing some tough parts of my book. Now, after a few weeks of distance, I can come back and really enjoy the book. I can read it and love it.

I just heard this quote from Hugh Howley today "most authors spend their time vacillating between thinking they're a genius and thinking they're a hack". I fall in this group.

This is just confirming the ups and downs. As a new author, these ups and downs are new to me too. I think you can appreciate some bits of writing consistently, and other bits you wish you could do better, but you are confronted with the limits of your ability. For certain parts of the book I can genuinely say "this is the best I can do. I know it could be better, but I can't do it". Just like a tennis player could say the same thing about his/her shots in the course of a match.

When have you ever been so critical reading a book? Only in high school or college have I ever torn a book apart and really read it as critically as I do my own book.


message 39: by [deleted user] (new)

Bravo, John!


message 40: by John (new)

John Khoury | 21 comments thanks, Sofie ;-)


message 41: by Willow (new)

Willow Sanders (willowsanders) | 5 comments John you are SO right. I'm constantly vacillating as well. I think because writing is such a solitary endeavor, and we spend so much time in our own heads that once we step out of our heads and rejoin the real world, depending on how the outside has influenced our mood at that given time we think it's great or we think its crap. Since I just pushed my first ebook out to the world, I'm adopting the "expect the worst hope for the best attitude" to prepare myself just in case my book actually IS complete crap :-D

As far as reading critically- unfortunately I'm just finishing up my mLit, and so I read everything critically- I just can't seem to turn it off... much to the chagrin of a lot of Indie Romance & Erotic Fiction writers who have received less than stellar reviews from me lol


message 42: by Judy (new)

Judy (judy5cents) | 28 comments I'm pretty sure that every writer feels that way at some point about every book he or she has written. I always find myself thinking my books are the worst things ever written when I'm in the final phases of editing.

It's the same with each book. I'll be going over the manuscript looking to find the typos that may have been missed in the editing process knowing it's at least the 110th time I've read this book. Suddenly the book is riddled with superfluous adverbs, all the dialog is stilted, and the humor I thought was so biting and fresh is as stale as last week's bagels.

It's part of the writing process--the "I've been working on this same book for so long I'm totally sick of it" stage.

Then a few weeks or so after it's published, I'll take a look at it and think "Wow, this is pretty good. Can't believe I wrote that."


message 43: by John (new)

John Khoury | 21 comments @Willow - know what you mean. Like learning to box and then watching Rocky. You think "this is total bullshit" and you can't enjoy it anymore.

@Judy "the humor I thought was so biting and fresh is as stale as last week's bagels" was humorous.


message 44: by Mary (last edited Jun 16, 2014 02:10PM) (new)

Mary Sisney | 10 comments I love both of the nonfiction books that I've published. In fact, I sometimes will stop reading a book written by someone else and read passages from one of my books because I find them more entertaining. I also enjoyed writing the books. It took me only seven months to write the first one, which is over 500 pages. The second one is much shorter and took less than four months to write. However, last year, I was writing a book that I didn't enjoy writing or reading. After about a month of slow, tedious writing, I dumped it because I found what I had written boring. I figured if I didn't enjoy reading my book why would anyone else.


message 45: by Jack (new)

Jack Knapp | 778 comments Mod
Being critical: Willow, I understand perfectly.
Having written about half a million words in the past year, I find I spot mistakes everywhere. I'm critical of my own efforts, but I've seen the same sort of errors I make in the text of bestsellers!
I've been re-reading one of my favorite series; I kept the books and I've read them several times already, something I can do with a book; by comparison, a movie I've seen once is something that holds no entertainment value for me.
The author of the series has hit the Times Bestseller List probably 20 times, maybe more. And there are orphan words left behind during editing, typos, just glitches you expect a professional editing staff to catch. But they didn't, and don't.
I just hope other readers are equally understanding regarding my books and the books of other indie authors.
FWIW: I never noticed the mistakes when I read the books before.


message 46: by Don (new)

Don Ledger (goodreadscomdonledger) Blood Shock The Dana Wilde Case by Don Ledger
Hi Mary,
I think we all write to improve on the book genres we like to read. I' m certain most of us have the phrase, "I can do better than this." in the back of our minds when we read someone else's book.
I emulate some authors, but only with what I consider their strong points; there structure of their dialogue setups, brevity or colourful description, to name a few.
As for boring ourselves with our own prose...if you aren't getting a jolt from your own stuff you might as well dump it as you have already stated you have done.
I find it refreshing that many of you have walked the same paths as myself.
Don


message 47: by Mary (last edited Jun 17, 2014 02:50PM) (new)

Mary Sisney | 10 comments Jack, I'm a retired English professor, so I'm probably a little bit more annoyed by the editing errors that I find in bestselling books, published by supposedly reputable publishing companies, than you are. But I've also found a few errors in my books even though I edited them multiple times and had several of my English teacher friends read them, so I try to be more forgiving now. Don, I wasn't really trying to improve on the memoir when I wrote my first book or the humorous commentary on life book when I wrote the second one. I know that I'm not as good as Richard Wright, Maya Angelou, or Nora Ephron. But I read quite a few memoirs by actors, comedians, singers, athletes, and reality stars. And I usually say, "I can do way better than this" when I'm reading those books. I said it when I was reading Toni Braxton's book, and I'll probably be saying it as I read Robin Roberts' new book.


message 48: by Jack (last edited Jun 18, 2014 05:22AM) (new)

Jack Knapp | 778 comments Mod
FWIW: I just read "Back Lands", by Michael McGarrity, one of my favorite writers. The original was published in Hardcover by E. P. Dutton; the one I read is a copy I bought from Amazon.
If there were errors, I didn't see them. Not one; if there were any, the read was so good I skipped right past them without noticing.
BTW, if you like a good read, I gave this one the highest possible rating. McGarrity blends personal expertise with extensive research (he details some of that in the book's end notes) and his setting is mostly New Mexico in the late 19th through early 20th century. My rating is up on Amazon now if you feel like checking this book out.
Like some of us, McGarrity took up writing as a second career, probably after retirement, and has done very well at it.


message 49: by Don (last edited Jun 18, 2014 10:37AM) (new)

Don Ledger (goodreadscomdonledger) Blood Shock: The Dana Wilde CaseWhen I went through the proof copy of Blood Shock I noticed some errors which were compounded by corrections of earlier errors or a change of a word to punch up a sentence without modifying the sentence previous. In some cases when I changed a paragraph for clarity or for perhaps to enhance description I'd save the entire page before the change then come back and read it later to ensure that the change moved the story forward. But you can get into trouble with a lot of changes. In two of my previous books the publishing house's editorial changes created errors that I had to correct. In some cases this was particular to changes involving technology where the editor had no expertise in that area and cut sentences which drastically altered the meaning of a phrase or paragraph.


message 50: by Barbara (new)

Barbara Neville (barbaraneville) | 9 comments I write what I like to read, so I enjoy the heck out of it. I like upbeat humorous reads. And I write what I know, so can easily keep my stories authentic. During editing I laugh at my own lines. I read in the vernaculars I write in and I love action. One reader's feedback was, 'I loved your book so much,I'm even talkin' funny'. I loved it. Write what you know, write what you love and love your characters. We all needs more happiness in our lives. Heck, is there such a thing as too much laughter?


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