Most writers don’t get stuff right on the first try. They know it takes practice, determination, patience, and sacrifice in some form or another. But I think a lot of us forget that it’s okay to make mistakes—and to admit to them—even after we’ve published.
I’ve spent the majority of my life writing, and I’ve been fortunate enough to have a few publications. I’ve also worked as a technical writer, a graphic designer, an editor, and I have some experience in self-publishing. By now, I’ve learned how to avoid most mistakes. But that doesn’t mean I don’t make them. Even those of us with years of experience can mess up sometimes. It’s not an easy thing for me to admit to, but that’s exactly what happened with the original version of my e-book The Eyes That Moved, a short story that was released on Amazon in May of last year. And it wasn’t like it was a complete failure; I had a modest amount of success with it, and as a whole, I was pretty happy with the piece. But I had a nagging sensation that wouldn’t go away. Something wasn’t quite right with it, and I couldn’t let that go.
Change of Plans
When I first wrote and published the e-book, I intended it to be a standalone piece with no alternate endings or further storyline. However, after it was published, I received a ton of encouragement from readers to make it a series. Though I was thrilled to have so much interest from others in the characters and storyline, I had to make sure transforming it into a series was the right move for this piece, so I experimented.
After only a few days of brainstorming, the answer struck me. This piece was evolving rapidly—which was awesome—but that also meant I’d have to rethink the initial storyline. I attempted to weave in a few more details for a minor change to the story to tie it into something bigger, and while that worked well enough, there were other things to consider.
Initial reviews for the original version were very positive. In fact, The Eyes That Moved still holds a good rating on both Amazon and Goodreads, something I’m very thankful for. But some critical feedback eventually trickled in, feedback that stuck with me. Readers were right; it still needed some improvement. I had spent several years on the piece, but that didn’t mean it was ready. Readers argued (and quite reasonably I might add) that though the storyline was decent, it could have been planned out better. I also had comments about not showing enough (something I think we all struggle with at times, even when we think we have it nailed), the ending being too obvious, and a few readers not being able to connect with the characters. That last one was probably the hardest to endure, but I know it was the truth, and it definitely was a problem that needed resolved. However, that’s still not what convinced me to write the second edition.
Growing As a Writer
The deciding factor came when I sat down and did some quiet, internal reflecting on the piece. I didn’t just want to improve this piece for readers; I wanted to improve it for myself. I could do better, and I had to prove that to my inner critic who was taunting me with lies about never being successful. I wanted to tighten up the writing, the loose ends, the plot holes—I wanted to fix everything that had gone wrong in the first edition. But was it really worth it? Maybe I really didn’t have to tweak it; maybe this was all overkill. After all, it’d already gone through minor updates and a cover tweak. And maybe I could make the whole series thing work anyway.
But that was nonsense. My inner muse told me so. A writer always knows whether or not a piece is finished, and I knew I wasn’t done with this one yet. So I worked my tail off and got feedback from some of the most honest critics I know: my family. My family is my greatest support group, and that’s what makes them my toughest critics. They not only love me and encourage me in all my writing endeavors, but they aren’t afraid to be completely honest with me—and sometimes painfully so. I can always count on them to be up front if something doesn’t work, but they also do it in a way that ignites a passion for improvement. They know how to tell me what works and what doesn’t without ever batting an eye, but they also gush about the parts they love.
If you want to grow as a writer, those are the types of critics you need in your life. Whether it’s family, friends, or a group of beta readers who have no qualms telling you what you’re doing wrong (and right), you need them to make your piece top notch. Without their input, your WIP might fall flatter than you realize.
That advice might be tough to swallow, and I don’t mean to be a downer for those of you who love to write. In fact, I want to encourage you to keep at it—even when you don’t feel like it and when what you write is complete drivel. Because someday, you will get it right, and all your time and effort will have paid off. To me, there’s only one thing better in the world than growing as a writer, and that’s witnessing other writers growing in their craft.
If you’re interested in seeing the efforts of all my fussing and fretting, the second edition of The Eyes That Moved (part one of The Porcelain Souls series) is available on Amazon and Smashwords—and you choose the price on Smashwords.
If that's not enough, here are some more opportunities to get a free copy:
From now until April 15th, you can enter the giveaway on Amazon (https://giveaway.amazon.com/p/b49118ed1c3b9112) to win a copy of the e-book for your Kindle. For those of you not eligible for the giveaway, you can still receive a free copy—SIGNED—by subscribing to my author newsletter.
Last but not least, if you have a copy of the first edition and would like to receive the second edition for free, don’t hesitate to contact me via the envelope icon at the top of this site. I’ll be happy to send it to you just for being a loyal reader.