This week’s guest post is the wonderful Wilmar, author of The Silver Ninja series. I am very pleased to have Wilmar guesting on this blog as very early on when I started The Eternal Scribbler blog, he reached out and sent me a very kind and supportive message which meant a lot.
Especially as I had been struggling and was not even sure if I should keep the blog going.
This will actually be a 2 parter post as Wilmar also answered some interview questions and I’ll be posting them tomorrow, so do check back!
Be afraid to give up, not to fail
by Wilmar Luna
The thing author’s chase most is often the same thing which paralyzes them into inaction. Perfection.
When we don’t achieve perfection, when every sentence, every scene, every conflict is dripping with mediocrity, we surrender.
“I know that this scene has a strong emotional moment, but I don’t know how to write it.”
When we cannot find the words to elicit the emotion we want in a scene, a character, a moment, we feel like what?
It’s an F word. No, not that one. The other F word, one that is more frightening and offensive than what’s used when you jam your toe on a table leg.
To fail is the greatest sin to befall mankind. Failure means that you have let people down that your goals slipped out of your fingers, that you’ve failed to actualize who you want to become. To fail is to become the laughing stock, the butt of all jokes, all because you strove for greatness and missed.
It is this fear, this myth, this brainwashing which strikes like snake venom and kills most would-be authors from ever putting pen to paper. If you’d like, I have a red pill to offer you.
Failure is not the end of your story. Failure is the obstacle preventing the main character from overcoming their flaw.
Some backstory for you. I have self-published two books: The Silver Ninja and The Silver Ninja: Indoctrination. If you’re curious about their rating . . .
The Silver Ninja averages 2.96 stars out of an average of 27 reviews on Goodreads. Indoctrination is 3.33 stars out of 5 text reviews.
So on average, 3 out of 5 stars. Not exemplary, not terrible, just OK. But if you’ve read some of the 1-star reviews, you’d think I had murdered someone’s firstborn.
My flaw was inexperience, still is. I took a shotgun approach to writing my novel. I picked any old editor that was affordable and seemed trustworthy, and I made every sentence as beautiful as possible to prove that I knew how to write.
Sound familiar to anyone else?
I know how it feels to hate every word printed on your manuscript. To re-read your work and see all the flaws and plot holes you thought you had fixed. To look at your prose, read another author’s prose, and feel like you can never match up to their level of eloquence.
The most damning experience, the moment that wanted to make me quit, was when I hosted my beta read. I had chosen to rewrite my first book, The Silver Ninja which readers said had character likeability problems and big plot holes.
So I went back, dusted off Scrivener, and re-wrote the entire thing from scratch. I was so happy and pleased with myself. I genuinely believed that I had fixed all of the problems plaguing the novel.
My main character was giving food to the homeless. Her motive for doing what she did made more sense. My supporting characters were fleshed out. I was supremely confident that I had finally written the book as it was supposed to be.
I eagerly released it to my beta readers (and editor), excited that they would rave about the book and demand more.
Then I read the feedback. “I still hate the main character.” “The plot doesn’t make sense.” “Her giving food to the homeless feels contrived.” “I liked what you did in the original book better.”
With each criticism, I sank in my chair, belly sticking out as I deflated. I melted into a blob of hurt.
I wanted to give up.
Have you been there? In that dark place? Where your mind goes blank and hopelessness overwhelms you? You are not alone. These moments when you’re starting out as a writer are merely a sorting mechanism.
You will either rise up, continue writing, and push to become an author. Or you will abandon it, realize that it’s not for you, and put away your pen.
If putting away your pen makes you cringe, then you need to keep going. Everything in my life was telling me that I was not a good writer; that I didn’t have the skills necessary to tell an engrossing story.
Everyone told me no, feedback told me no, but a huge part of me still wanted it to be yes. A part of me fully believed that if I worked harder and practised my craft, everyone else will want to say ‘yes’ too.
With the help of a brilliant editor, I learned that my story structure was broken. The problem was not necessarily the prose, but in the execution. An inability to connect on an emotional level. I took a hiatus, read books, practised the craft, then made the painful decision to rewrite my book again.
A year later, I shared excerpts with my harshest critics and discussed the new direction. Their response caught me by complete surprise. “This sounds like a book I want to read.”
To say that I didn’t get a little teary-eyed would be a lie. I have failed more times than I care to admit, but I wouldn’t be able to live with myself if I didn’t see my project all the way to its end.
If this is you, keep going. Giving up is way worse than failure.
“The master has failed more times than the beginner has even tried.” -Stephen McCranie
Connect with Wilmar
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Big thanks to Wilmar for being this week’s guest poster. I hope you all enjoyed the post and do make sure to check out his books and his social media pages!
As I mentioned there will be another post tomorrow from Wilmar so do come back. 🙂
NB: Picture is supplied by guest poster.