I asked my friend and co-collaborator of a romance anthology, Molly Noble Bull, if she would like to critique my short romance. She said she would be delighted, but warned me that she takes her editing role very seriously and can come across rather tough if the situation warrants. I assured her I didn’t expect anything less.
As a writer, I am my own worst critic. While I am working on a book, I hate it and am sure my editor and publisher will too. Only after I finish the book and the last of the last rewrites, can I step back and say, “Wow! I don’t even remember writing this. It’s actually pretty good.”
Sadly, this carries over into my personal reading. Even when reading for entertainment, I have a hard time removing my editor’s cap. I find myself thinking, “I wouldn’t have used that phrase.” “That character would never react that way.” “Why does the writer have to tell me what the heroine is wearing in every scene? I don’t care.” “I saw that plot twist coming a mile away.” And on and on and on.
I have a friend who tells me I took all the romance out of writing for her. Before she met me, she used to dream of writing a novel. She pictured herself sequestered in a mountain retreat, plucking away at an old manual typewriter while birds twittered in the trees above a babbling brook. She thought writing was the most magical, romantic career in the world. HA!!!!!! Boy, has she changed her tune. After listening to me vent and whine for the last ten years, she realizes life is no Murder She Wrote and most of us aren’t Jessica Fletcher.
She doesn’t even read the way she used to. Because of me, she is always picking apart the books she reads, ever the critic. I took one of her favorite pasttimes and sapped all the joy out of it.
Oh, to be a writer. Or the friend of a writer. It’s not nearly as alluring as it appears on TV.