Tuesday, November 13, 2012

This is YOUR baby...

Picture this:

You're a brand new parent.  How hard can parenting be? You've read books on parenting, you've seen other people parent. You're pretty sure you can be at least as good a parent as them... and probably better.

So, there you are, with your brand new babe, who's now screaming like a banshee. You think you know what to do, but no one seems to agree with you. Hubs tells you to rock him, Mom tells you to feed him, and Grandma tells you to let him cry it out.

Then, it's time to dress the brand new babe for an outing.  You've picked out an outfit, but it's just not right. Aunt Edna tells you to bundle him up so he doesn't get a chill. Uncle Albert tells you to take off his coat so he doesn't overheat. Your BFF tells you you're crazy for taking him out at all.

You hope bed time is easier.  It isn't.  Your cousin tells you the baby should sleep with you.  Your in-laws tell you the baby should sleep in his own bed.  Hubs doesn't care where the baby sleeps, as long as it sleeps.

You throw your hands up...  exasperated and exhausted.  You thought you knew what to do, but it turns out parenting isn't quite as easy as it looks.  You know you need help but who do you listen to when everyone's advice is contradictory?

Writing your first novel is not much different.

Everyone has different opinions on what your characters should look like, what your setting should be, and even which dialogue tags (if any!) to use.  Sure, it's great when everyone agrees (Xoltenirvanamon is not a good name for a main character) but what happens when they don't?  What happens when one of your CP's is sure your MC's hair should be blonde and the other one insists on brunette?  Or if your writing instructor is sure starting your novel at Chapter 7 will get you a very nice book deal, and your other instructor thinks Chapter 7 should be cut and shredded, never to grace the inside of your manuscript again?

You go see your therapist, who listens and nods and glances at her watch every ten minutes.  At the end of your session, you ask her who you should trust.  She tells you to trust yourself.

Trust myself? Are you kidding me?  What do I know about writing a novel?   I'm a florist/engineer/accountant/fill-in-the-blank.  I'm not a writer.

Truth is, you are a writer.  Once you put pen to paper, or fingers to keyboard, you are instantly transformed.  And as a writer, especially the writer of your story, you have to trust yourself to be able to tell it better than anyone else.

That said, I often listen to my CP's and writing instructors.  They have given me advice that makes my MS stronger than it would have been had I not had them.  I'm incredibly thankful for their wisdom and non-bias opinions.  But, that doesn't mean I have to agree with everything they say.  At the end of the day, I have to listen to my gut.

My gut isn't always going to be right, but at least it's mine.

I'd love to hear how you handle contradictory critiques!  Meantime, check out another blog post I wrote on trusting your intuition.


  1. I vote for your therapist. Almost every time I go against what my gut instinct is telling me I get it wrong. However, I think I'm preaching to the choir right now, right? Your blog is good food for thought.

  2. Contradictory critiques are individualistic thought patterns that vary widely. It enables writers and readers to have choices that match what is interesting to them. Given that point of view, it is all about accepting the differences and moving forward with one's own gut instinct of what resonates within.