Dreaded Red Ink

I’ve been there and it wasn’t pretty. Think murder scene with lots of arterial spray. That’s how it felt too, like walking in and seeing my butchered baby twitching on the floor in its death throws.

Each red line and critical review felt like a personal affront. Sorry. I can’t not take it personally. I mean really, how can I be detached? After countless hours spent pouring over each and every word, (maybe not every word), pulling out my hair and chewing pencils, worrying about plot, characters, living and breathing them for months (or years), this hot mess is all I have to show for my efforts? 

Okay so the transfer from great idea in my head to paper didn’t turn out that well. And no, I didn’t develop some things, or really, um, see that from so-and-so’s POV. Which is why once the shock wears off and some distance has set in, red ink can be good. No one is ever out to tear our stories apart for fun. (If they are, live and learn: never feed the trolls more than once.) As to the remaining 99.9% of constructive criticism, you can dive right in or let it breathe.

You wrote a book (or a story) and not everyone who says they are, completes that task. Let alone makes it to stage two. So if you haven’t already, pat yourself on the back. Hold your head up with pride. Know that every writer faces revision. Even the greats. Then hop back on the horse.

We each confront the dreaded red ink in our own time frames. Some writers bounce right back, get busy fixing things. Others stew for years. Distance isn’t the only ingredient necessary for staunching the blood loss. Sometimes we need to be more intimate with the story – peel it to its core, understand it before we can share it. We may need to write more too. Gain more writing chops to understand the feedback our fellow writers/editors are telling us.

Bottom line, writing is a journey, not a destination. It grows as we grow and our efforts are all we are accountable for.

About Teresa Little

A writer by nature, Teresa Little spends her free time working with words. Her current work in progress is Ring Around the Rosie with a publication date slated for January 2019. Finicky Eater, about a rather cranky suicidal vampire named Kasha is on hold.

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