You’d think by now, I would have learned this lesson. I’ve been writing since I was in high school. I did things from YA and adult romances, which never saw the light of day–it was the efforts of a 15 and 16-year-old, so be glad you were spared that horror :P. After high school, I did science fiction to fantasy to thrillers. I started writing adult romance in 2007 and quickly realized this was the genre I loved writing most. So with all of that experience under my belt, you think I would have learned that it’s important to get the story exactly the way I want it the first time.
And yet, yesterday I was adding some scenes I had always wanted to put into one of my fantasies but hadn’t because of fear. I hate fear. Fear is the thing that prevents a story from becoming the best it can be. Fear comes in to destroy the creative process. Instead of looking at what’s right, it looks at all the things that will make a story wrong. Fear is based on what other people might think. It goes against what the characters want.
Though I am not a fantasy writer, I do love the four fantasies I wrote way back in the day, and I have a soft spot for them. I don’t often go back over them, but I had the inkling to last week, so I’ve been working my way through them. As I was listening to them on my Kindle (using that text-to-speech feature), I realized I wasn’t happy with Books 2 and 3. Not totally happy. Something was missing. I knew what that something was, but did I have the courage to do something about it? And did I dare take the time from other writing projects to make them?
Sometimes it’s hard for a writer to have the courage to do what will make the story 100% what the author had envisioned. Like I said, fear creeps in, and it can be crippling to the creative side. My fantasies aren’t popular. They aren’t my main focus. My main focus is romance, and I want it to stay that way. I dabble in other genres because I get the urge to do so once in a while, and I find it actually enhances my creativity so when I go back to romance, the ideas flow better than before. This isn’t something a savvy marketer would do, but I’m not going to worry about that angle of things anymore. I’m done with it. I just want to go back to having fun, and fortunately, I’m in the position where I can do that. For the authors who need to write specifically to a market in order to make ends meet, you have my sympathies. I know that is not easy!
Anyway, I spent yesterday changing Book 2. I uploaded it to Smashwords, and then I downloaded the Smashwords version to my Kindle so I can listen to it. The changes don’t change the story. It won’t do that for Book 3, either, which is why I’m only going to upload the new version to Smashwords. Smashwords will send out the versions to the retailers like B&N, Kobo, and Apple, but I don’t download books from those sites to listen to on my Kindle. I would use a Nook, Kobo device, or my iPhone if it came with the text-to-speech feature on my books, but alas, it doesn’t.
Since I’m that tech savvy, it took me an hour to figure out how to get a mobi file from my desktop to my Kindle. It turned out, I had to download an app to make the transfer possible. This morning I have a headache because I went through this craziness right before bed, and it took some trial and error to get it right. But see, Amazon doesn’t automatically update the interior files of a book. It does update covers (after some time), but it doesn’t do interior updates, and these changes are so small that it’s not worth bugging Amazon about it (nor am I going to update the books on Amazon). Smashwords, however, is very easy to update anything, so that’s why I’m doing it over there. I know a lot of people complain about Smashwords, but I love Smashwords for the ease it provides authors and readers. (Okay, I will admit figuring out how to get a Smashwords mobi file up to my Kindle wasn’t a piece of cake, but now that I know how to do it, it will be easy.)
To get back to the point….
Stories need to be told in the spirit of the creative voice. Fear (aka critical voice) will make the story less than what it should be. Now, I know there’s a balance that needs to be employed somewhere along the way, but when a writer feels like something is missing from the book, then that feeling has to trump trying to appease potential readers who won’t like it.
That’s what fear is in a nutshell: it’s worrying over what someone might think when they read the book. Sometimes the criticism is valid. I still think the changes I made at the last minute to The Perfect Wife made the story better. I’m happier with the final version. Having an editing team is good for some checks and balances. In the case of The Perfect Wife, this helped me get the book right the first time. Now it’s on pre-order, and I can walk away from it, knowing I got it the way I wanted it. The fantasy books, however, were a different matter, so I have to go back and tweak on it so that I’m happy with the final product.
In the end, writers are stuck with the books they write. Regardless of whether the books sell or not, they belong to the writers, and this is why (in my opinion), it’s important that the writers are happy with the finished product. Otherwise, the writers might find themselves in the position I’m in. They might be wishing they’d had the courage to write the story a different way in years to come. Yeah, money is nice. No one is going to argue that, but there’s something about being satisfied in the long run with something you created that supersedes financial rewards.
My goal moving forward is to get each book right the first time so that I don’t have to go back and change things later on.