A few days ago on Twitter, an agent commented on how many submissions she receives that are great, but not *quite* there in terms of being pub-ready. She stated that these seem to be the books authors write before they’re signed on for a deal. Then, I glanced up at the quote I have framed above my desk:
Between fanfic and original novels, I’ve written my fair share of stories over the past few years. And as I look back at each individual story, my evolution as a writer is clear as night and day. I would pay big bucks to make sure no one ever lays eyes on my first fanfic because . . . well, it sucked. It really, really sucked. But truthfully? I had no idea it sucked until a very kind, yet honest reviewer said, “Your plot is good, but I think you need a beta.”
So, I recruited a fandom friend as beta for my next story, and she’s been one of my most trusted critique partners ever since. Each story I’ve written has its own set of quirks: one was riddled with adverbs, one had serious tense issues, one had an implausible plot twist. All that aside, there’s something each one has in common: improvement.
When I wrote KINGDOM COME last year, I knew something was different about that book. I knew it was the best thing I’d ever written, and I’d never been more proud of a story. That’s why I decided to self-pub. I knew this story had merit, and I wanted to share it with the world. Then I wrote PLAY ON, my most recent MS. And you know what? THAT’S the best story I’ve ever written.
Do you see a pattern here? With each story, you grow. You get better. You may be one of the special few whose first book is amazeballs and people gobble it up, but even so, your next will be better. The one after that will be even greater. If the first book you wrote was fantastic, the third you write may be stupendous. On the flip side, your third book may suck. And that’s okay too. You shouldn’t strive for perfection. You should strive to write the best book you possibly can.
You have to write bad things before you write good things. You have to write good things before great. Keep writing. Keep pushing. No matter what, don’t you dare give up. Allow yourself to suck once in a while.