After finishing the first draft of my science fiction novel, I handed a copy to my wife. I did so because I cherish her honesty. Her honesty is like a rainbow; an army of malicious water droplets splitting the innocent rays of the sun into thousands of pieces, hemorrhaging blood the color of blue, purple, red, yellow, and orange.
I love my wife and crave her insight, regardless of how much it might hurt. I watched her as she read. She smiled and winced in equal proportion. She read five chapters before putting it down. I watched and waited for what she’d say.
“The story’s good,” she said. “But your writing style…”
I picked up the printed manuscript and jumped to the second chapter. You can never trust first chapters. They’re designed to be manipulative. I started reading and was appalled and embarrassed by what I found.
“This is crap,” I said. “It’s absolute garbage.”
“It’s not that bad,” she said.
“It is that bad. This shouldn’t be allowed to exist. I should have never let you read it. I’m sorry.”
I may have been a bit overly dramatic, but the pages were a hodgepodge of adverbs and passive voice sentences. If Stephen King had read it, he’d walk up, slap me across the face, and in a British accent say, “Shame on you my dear boy.” I know he’s not British. The accent just feels right.
At some point my writing got good. Well, good enough to recognize when it’s bad. I’m not abandoning the thing. I love it too much. I’m determined to fix it, no mater how long it takes. I know I’ll need my wife’s help. She knows what she wants in such a book. She knows what it needs to interest people less crazy than I. I’m just glad she believes I can do it.