Wednesday, July 13, 2005

Comments: 2

Postpartum (of your novel) Depression

It's a work of love you’ve been working with for a long time, maybe even years. Finally, you’ve sent it to a publisher, and he wants it! It's done! Kaput! You rejoice. You celebrate. Break out the cake and ice-cream.

So why should you feel so depressed?

I think most writers go through some variation of depression when their “baby” finally goes off to market. That's why I've started my second novel "GRETA!" even before THE BRIDGE BECKONS sells.

Of course, there is a big sigh of relief when your work finally goes off to an agent or publisher. But, after that initial sigh, while waiting for the verdict, or the final product to hit the bookstore shelves, I think we can drop into a funk if we don't quickly get busy with another project. We need something to take our minds off the project that just went out, or we can worry ourselves to death.

As with most writers, I have this overbearing feeling that my work is dumb, stupid, juvenile, not worthy of anyone's reading, let alone their respect. But, I think that's normal. I think if we writers ever thought otherwise, we'd be arrogant about our work, rather than humble, and I'm not so sure an arrogant writer can put his best efforts into his writing, as he'd probably think, "Hey I’m good. I don’t make mistakes, I don’t need to revise, and I just know everyone will want to read my work." I think there are writers, some of them best-selling authors, who have this attitude. I’ve heard rumors of a few. However, might not their writing be even better if they were to take the humble attitude and say, “I know it’s not the best. What can I do to make it better?” That’s the attitude of truly great writers, in my opinion.

Revision is the key to good writing. I think I’ve revised and edited THE BRIDGE BECKONS a hundred or more times. I’ve been working on it off and on for the past 18 years and I’m getting sick of it. I’ve had it critiqued by several people, and I still think there’s room for improvement, even as I’m currently sending out queries to agents and editors. Over the years I’ve learned a great deal about writing. I’ve read several books on the art and have tried to apply what I’ve read. Of course, I write for a living, but it’s technical writing. Fiction writing is a whole different ball game.

With all I’ve learned, I’m hoping GRETA! won’t take nearly as long to write, and will be even better than THE BRIDGE BECKONS.

About Paul West

Paul West is a freelance writer and novelist. Born and raised in the San Francisco Bay Area, Paul claims to be a "Prune Picker," though he now makes his home in Taylorsville, Utah.

You can follower him on Twitter: @PaulWWest

Published: Wednesday, July 13, 2005

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  1. I love my babies so much, that I just refuse to revise and send them to publication. I'm just not ready to part with them, as I know they will be swooped up by money hungry publishers.

    Either that, or Im lazy.

  2. Paul, wonderful site! You've made some excellent observations about how difficult it can be to part with something you've worked so hard on for years. Yes, I do believe this is a common feeling among most writers. Maybe it gets easier after several completed manuscripts? Good discussion!