Thursday, January 23, 2014

Thoughtful About . . . Distance

I've been writing for a long time. As in, a long time. I finished my first novel at age 13. My second at 16. Then six more by the time I was 21. That's a lot of words on the page. A lot of plot. A lot of characters to come to love. And I always had the goal of getting published. Putting those stories into the world.

That means criticism.

Now, no matter what you do in life, you're going to come up against criticism. But me...I wasn't so good at taking it, and I can admit that now that I'm old (ahem) and wise (cough, cough). ;-) Even when it was a simple matter of needing to trim a few scenes, I couldn't do it. I was too attached. I loved every word. I mean, if I read through something all on my own and saw a mistake or a way to make a sentence sound better, sure. I'd change it. But on someone else's advice?

Nuh uh. No way.

Yeah...I had some work to do, LOL. I formed a critique group, and that helped so much. My internal protests to every suggestion quickly shrank from a day to a minute to a few seconds' debate. I learned to measure and weigh advice.

I learned to adopt a distance between me and my work. To realize that my book wasn't me. An attack on something I created (not that my critique partners attacked! But looking forward here to reviews...) was not an attack on my person.

Distance. It's the friend of a writer. It's the friend of everyone when it comes to these situations. It's so easy to take things personally, but what does that lead to? Hurt feelings. Offense. Division. It happens in friendships, families, churches.

Lately, I've thought that I have distance pretty well down. Mastered. I invest my heart in my books while I write them, then I put them down. I walk away. And I approach all else about them with what I figured was healthy detachment. Changes to a book? In my whole direction? In what project I'm working on? I can do that. Why not. No problem.

But here's the thing...when one has "mastered" distance, sometimes it masters you. Sometimes you look at everything with that lens. Sometimes you stop investing altogether. And that can't be good. Because hope, faith, and detachment are a strange combination. And when that last one has the upper hand, you don't always even realize if the other two have faded.

In this balancing act we call life, it seems like something or another is always out of whack, doesn't it? We always have work to do. Right now, part of mine is in finding this particular equilibrium. In making sure that keeping a distance from my work doesn't turn into keeping a distance from faith that God's working through it.

I definitely need some space between me and the things of my hands. But between me and the work God's doing in me--no. That I need to embrace fully. That I need to hold close. That I need to be protective of. So that I can still hope...not in a particular outcome, but in the One who's controlling it.


4 comments:

  1. Hi Roseanna,

    For one of my college courses, I'm writing an article about e-books (and I'll submit it for publication to The WyoWriter), and I'm supposed to interview people in the field. I thought you would be an ideal person to ask since you are publishing free e-novellas in between your primary novels. So, I'm wondering if you would possibly have the time for me to e-mail you four quick interview questions about that (which I would need to have answered by Monday afternoon). If not, that's perfectly fine - I know you're super busy with so much writing to juggle. :-)

    Sapphire

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    1. I'd be happy to, Sapphire! Email me at roseanna at roseannawhite dot com and I'll get 'em back to ya quick as I can. =)

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    2. Thank you sooooo much! :-) I'll send that e-mail later this afternoon when I'm done rushing between classes. :-)

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