Feedback, Fiction, Novel, Reader, Writing

Before my novel is published …

Unfortunately, I am not announcing an actual publication date. I am playing what if today. No … strike that … I am playing when today. And one thing I need to change before my novel is published is my tendency to refute a compliment on my work.

Just this morning, I realized that even when my husband compliments me on a meal, I almost always point out that something is overdone, or too salty, or … something. It’s not just with my cooking I do this. I may have voiced an apology in response to every compliment offered me on a portrait done or piece of jewelry constructed.

I could question why I do this. I am sure I already know one major factor in this behavior, but I don’t know that I need to understand the reasons in order to stop the behavior. And I absolutely need to stop doing this because not only does it negate my efforts, I have finally understood how rude the habit is.

If someone should tell me how much they loved reading my book and I respond by pointing out where I could have used a better metaphor, or taken the layering to a deeper level, or failed to carrying out the theme as far as I could, what does that say to the reader? It says, “You’re an idiot for thinking my novel is good.”

My habit does not come off as modesty, it smacks of insult. Henceforth, I will accept compliments with a simple thank you. If you catch me slipping here on my blog, you have permission to slap me.

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18 thoughts on “Before my novel is published …”

  1. Your writing IS wonderful! I think it’s a habit a lot of us have to apologize for our work in some way. I always feel the need to preemptively apologize before someone reads my work. It’s like I need them to know that I recognize it’s not perfect. I should just stop that! Great post.

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    1. Um … well, I guess I can only say, “Thank you.” 🙂

      That’s it, isn’t it, that we want to acknowledge its imperfections? And that’s really because we don’t want anyone to think we’re not smart enough to see them. 😀

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  2. I wonder how many of us do this? But I see an up side too. If we thought it was great, no editing would occur. And how much bad work have you read? However, readers (even professional ones) are subjective, so one person’s “no” is another’s “yes.”

    I’ve gotten off track.

    Maybe learning to say “thank you” is the first step to pushing the novel out of the nest.

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  3. This really puts things in perspective about how vulnerable writing makes me feel.

    I almost never say thank you when someone compliments my writing. There is always the fear of being found the fraud. I suspect poking holes in the work makes me feel as if I’ve sheltered myself from those accusations.

    It is strange though, because as a southern girl, I always say thank you for even the most mundane things. But never my writing.

    Great post Linda. It sure gets the wheels turning.

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    1. Yes, yes, yes, that’s how I feel. I’m always afraid I’ll be revealed as a fraud. To be honest, I’m so paranoid about it that when someone compliments me here on my blog, I always wonder if they’re being sarcastic!

      Ridiculous. Just say thank you.

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  4. Questioning your own work, whether it’s cooking, cleaning or writing, is as innate as the need for sleep. It acts as a kind of filter and encourages us to want to improve. The trick is to take the compliments like a champion – acknowledge that someone liked it – and take silent notes on what you think could be improved. When you stop questioning yourself, you stop.

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    1. Oh, no, I never meant I would stop questioning myself. I just need to stop voicing those questions to someone trying to compliment me. I am in no danger of becoming conceited in my writing.

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  5. Well, good for you! I suspect you’ll receive plenty of compliments in the time to come. While you’re at it, make sure you have a response to the less-than-favorable reception all writers receive, too; having one of those handy is as useful as a quick and ready thank you for a kind word. 😉

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    1. Shouldn’t I just say thank you for criticism too? I certainly wouldn’t apologize and I’m not the type to counterattack. It’s all opinion, whether they like it or hate it. What I do with that opinion is my business.

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