Jun 29, 2007

Ah, the Odious Stench of Good Writing!

by Heather Horrocks

I did it! The book that I wrote the first draft to the end has now been revised to the end and is now in the hands of my trusty critique partners, which means it now is . . . crap?

Yup, that’s right. As soon as I started re-reading it the last time, after all the revisions, I kept thinking ‘this stinks.’ I know it doesn’t, really, but it always seems to at this point. And, whenever I hand off anything to anyone else, I fear they’ll think it stinks, too.

It usually doesn’t, thank goodness. But what insecurity is there in me (and in many of us writer, in all of us people) that makes me think so?

If I give it a couple of months, I can usually go back and reread pages and enjoy them. But not during final revisions, when I’ve read and re-read and re-read and . . . well, you get the drift . . . until I can no longer bear to read any more. And then I push and keep reading because it’s time for this baby to be born and to come out into the world. But what an ugly baby!

Now I’ve already jumped on the partially completed book and hope to finish it as quickly as the last one, and I’m so excited about it. The story is wonderful. The pages I’ve already read are clever, funny, compelling, touching, and have me thinking, ‘This is great!’ But I have no illusions; this book, too, shall stinketh in final revisions.

I read a quote years ago (wish I could remember who originally said it) that confidence was given as a consolation prize to writers with less talent, but that those with talent continually had to struggle with insecurities. I guess. But what if I had talent AND confidence? Wouldn’t that be cool? Oh, well, if I have to choose between the two, I guess I would prefer talent. Let’s all take a moment and thank God for our talent. I do.

That brings me round (yes, this blog and my mind are just wandering along a random path, I can now see) to the parable of the talents. During the past fourteen years as I have written and learned and struggled and despaired and written and revised and written some more, I have felt, several times, that my talent has been increased. And I have also felt that it was because I kept on writing and learning and revising and writing that it happened.

So what’s the point of this blog? (Is there a point? I’ll laugh if I can find one today.) I guess it’s that if you think your book stinketh, hopefully it’s just your insecurity speaking. And, if you don’t have the talent you wish you had, well, just keep going, because at certain points (like in the video games our children/grandchildren play) you go far enough to reach the little treasures along the way, and you’ll find another bit of talent to add to what you’ve already received. Again, thank you, God. If earth is a video game, I’m hoping to get to the highest level -- with all my treasure points (writing and otherwise) intact.

Here’s to treasures of talent to be found along the way. And to stinky books that keep us humble enough to keep learning more of our craft.

Have a wonderful, insecure, talent-filled, stinky-writing filled day.

Heather Horrocks


  1. I admire you tenacity and productivity, Heather. I had to smile at your descriptions. wouldn't it be grand to have talent and confidence! Well, you can be confident that you have great talent...you are amazing!

  2. Isn't it funny what a little time and perspective can do, when we reread our own cold writing. Sometimes the errors, repeated words, punctuation faults leap out and grab you by the throat. Other times your jaw drops and you ask yourself, 'Did I write THAT?'

  3. Thanks for the encouragement, Heather. if YOU feel incompetent at times, my own insecurities are OK.

  4. Heather,
    You put so well into words what so many of us feel. But isn't that the way with so many of our talents? Others' abilities to see so many of our "gifts" that we just can't see in ourselves? I guess that's why it's so important to have family, friends, ward members, etc in our lives, to pump up our confidence when we feel like we haven't got a shred of talent to our names.


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