Monday, June 13, 2011

I first saw this video on the AuthorCulture blog. It's disturbingly and hilariously accurate, and if you're a writer I strongly recommend you watch it, if only for a well-deserved laugh:

The Horrors of Stage Five

Currently I'm in Stage Five for my first completed manuscript. It's quite a leap from Stage Four to Stage Five, as many of you writers out there know!

Thankfully many of our critique partners and those kind enough to actually read through our first drafts are not nearly as cruel as the ones who left big red X's all over the pages of this poor fellow's manuscript. ;) But it can still be a scary, horrifying, and depressing thing to see just how much work our stories need in order to be presentable.

Our stories seem such lovely things, shining in the sunlight of our triumph upon completion of the first draft. And so they are! (Well, at least I like to think so, after all the work put into them!) But they can still be polished and even re-molded a little to refine them into stories that will be even more beautiful. So I'm learning that Stage Five doesn't have to be all darkness and hopelessness...

Leave the Forest For A While

When you find yourself taking that step from Stage Four to Stage Five, it's easy to get lost in the sudden shadows of the forest of edits. You can run from page to page, struck by the shortcomings you, with your limited perspective, had never noticed before. And you can feel like an utter failure.

I was recently given some great advice on how to handle that initial shock: Step away from the story. Leave the marked pages in the forest for a while. Go play in the sunshine. Those pages will still be there when you get back.

Now, I'll be completely honest with you--I haven't yet gone back to the forest. It's been several weeks since I got the very kind and helpful comments and edits from a dear friend. (Believe me--if all critique partners were like her, the editing forest would be a lot less terrifying! My "shock" was buffered by encouragement and understanding, so thank you so, so much to the person who helped me, because you know who you are!)

Yet, someday (hopefully soon!), if it's God's will, I want to go back. I want to brave that forest.


A Story Worth Fighting For

Generally when any of my writing gets critiqued, I want to either:

1. Reject the criticism.

2. Give up.


3. Make the smallest amount of change necessary.

But this time it's different. This is a story I've had on my heart for a long time. It's a manuscript I've worked on off and on for years. To me, it's a story worth fighting for, and unless God lets me know otherwise, I want to fight for it.

Yes, I want to fight!

I want to my story to be the best that it should be. I won't settle for mediocrity! (Should this be the BB's new team cheer?)

Seriously, I'm kind of scared to post this. I don't want to be a hypocrite by writing all this down and then never getting around to fixing up my manuscript. If that does happen, please forgive me.

But by writing this post today, I hope that even one person might be encouraged to battle through Stage Five and find a grand, uncharted, thrilling Stage Six someday. Even if that one person turns out to be just me. ;)


  1. I WON'T SETTLE FOR MEDIOCRITY! LOL! I love it, Amber. I'm taping this to my monitor as I type...

    Great article, gal. I'm glad you see the value of polishing, polishing, polishing...even if it's painful!

  2. Hahaha, I'm glad you like the cheer, Lisa! ;)

    Thank you for your encouragement, support, and friendship. :) Editing/polishing won't keep us down, right?


  3. Nicely said, Amber. I like your gut-wrenching honesty.

  4. Sandra,

    Thank you! I'm glad the BB is a place where we can be gut-wrenchingly honest. :)


  5. Wonderful post and hilarious vid:) I so relate! BTW, your blog post title is great! I really believe that you must step away from your story to gain perspective. Writers are just too close to their work and often see things that aren't there or should be! Time away restores perspective. I try to put mine in a drawer for a month or so and do something else. Anyway, great post - good writing takes guts! I wish you all the best on your work, Amber. I think I'll be holding your book in hand someday!

  6. Laura,

    Thank you so much! :) (I just had to share that video--I thought it was super funny when I first saw it on that other blog!)

    I agree about writers needing to step away from their work and get an outside opinion, and I hope I can really take that to heart when I come back to my writing! I also agree about good writing taking guts--although that's something I'm only just starting to really learn, I think. ;)

    I really appreciate your encouraging words ever since we first "met" in the blogosphere, Laura. :) Thank you from the bottom of my heart!



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