30 Days of Fika Books: Nine
This morning I woke up with my most favourite feeling.
I couldn't wait to get back in to the book I was reading.
Then I remembered it was mine.
I spent the day yesterday making the wee changes and tweaks Before Again needs before it goes back to the editor next week. It's not what I planned to do this week, I have a million other tasks to prep for the newsletter, but this needs to be done and I guess it's happening now. What I really did, though, is spend the day falling back in love with my story.
Every writer falls in and out of love with their story throughout the process. In many (weird!) ways, it's like a really intense relationship. Some days it's like a dream come true, and other days you want to smother it in its sleep if it breathes funny.
Part of that is just the natural ebb and flow of work; we all have times where we feel like we're smashing our careers and others where we're pretty sure we should never have left nursery school. But I've come to realise that part of it is the fact that if you're writing well, then you're probably writing in ways that make you feel uncomfortable. Not every story is literally autobiographical, but in my experience, all the good stories have raw bits of the writer in them.
In my twenties, I was a flashy writer. I was a screenwriter back then, and I was good at coming up with great hooks for movies and series. Clever concepts, attention-grabbing ideas -- sold a lot of projects, but very few made it to screen.
Where I was going wrong, was writing characters who were a lot more confident than I was. They were wish-fulfilment. They would stride into rooms and every man would faint with lust; they always had a clever comeback and they never, but ever, felt crap. Failure made them stronger and their doubters were always proven wrong.
Now, all of that is fun to watch on screen (and many a male action-movie writer has built a career on far less), but it doesn't really connect. Zero humans are actually like that (certainly not all the time), so when the smoke has cleared it leaves you feeling a bit hollow. It's like the story version of fast food: it can hit the spot in the moment, but you're hungry again in half an hour.
The very first fiction I wrote was the blog Life is Swede (which eventually became Behind Blue Eyes). While in that first version the story was a bit all over the place (I was literally making it up day by day), I think it got the following it did because I put in all of my fears and insecurities about being an immigrant in Sweden. Ellie might not be real, but a lot of how she feels when confronted with flawlessly beautiful and confident Swedes, is.
That's why I can't read it, and I cringe to bits when I know someone else is. I know that not everyone reads a book and thinks hmmm the author must be really insecure about this or that, but I know it's there even if you don't. My books reveal bits of me I don't always tell people.
I think that's (sometimes at least) where the argh it's crap I have to tear it up and start again feeling comes from, even after something has been published. It's one downside of self publishing, that I don't have someone to talk me off the ledge at those times! And one thing I'm looking to change over the next few months, building up a more regular editing team, plus beta readers and ARC teams.
But in the meantime, I'm away to carry on falling back in love with Kirsty and the gang!