Monday, August 24, 2009

Shoes of Worth

The pair of shoes chose me, I thought. They waved from the display, their simple style with subtle detail catching my eye. They were Janna shoes, casual flats, and I was enamored by their rosy hue. The fact that they peeped an adorable hello from beneath the cuff of my jeans excited me about fall's wardrobe possibilities.

I was going to buy them.

Until I got to the register, where, somehow, their presentation seemed different. The color wasn't so warm a rose. The stitching was shoddy. The soles looked like cheap rubber slapped on with little care. They were not Janna shoes.

Was it the light? A more perceptive eye or change in my mood? What made me see the shoes differently?

Writing is this way, you know. We can work a piece with feelings of love. It's perfect. We envision where it's going and what it might do. And then with no warning we see the piece through different eyes. The mechanics are jumbled, it just doesn't flow. The voice isn't right. And suddenly we don't love it anymore.

What happens? What is it that makes such a difference?

And how do we know when we really have something of worth?

42 comments:

Marybeth Poppins said...

usually that happens to me after I spot the price tag :)

Jenna said...

Can you finish this post...add some advice to the end ;)...about writing, not shoe-buying though :).

I was just about to open blogger and write a post so, so similar to this one. I checked my reader first and saw your post and it was like you channeled my thoughts.

The questions you pose have been weighing on my mind lately as is the age old question for me, "What kind of writer do I want to be?"

I may attempt to elaborate on this topic on my blog...good post Janna!

Tess said...

hahhahaha...so true! I love this analogy. I write something at midnight and think, 'brilliant!' only to realize how cheaply strewn together it is in the light of day *sigh*.

Lori said...

Yeah, that does happen a lot with writing. That's why we go back to it, redo the sewing to make it perfect, put some more shine on that color. And then it happens sometimes that in any light, it still looks right.

Jessica said...

Was it the price tag? LOL

It's really hard for me to tell when my piece is good. I either hate it or love it, but the feelings change. That's why I like to get feedback from crit partners and judges. It's a more reliable light. :-)

Wendy @ All in a Day's Thought said...

My mood can alter so much. I think trusted friends/writing mentors are good for this. Prayer helps too. I've only sent 6 queries, got 1 bite (waiting to hear) and continue to feel God telling me to chill even though I have a list of 8 more agents to send to. I'm trying to listen even though I'm not sure I understand.
~ Wendy

Melissa Marsh said...

Great post, Janna. This happens to me with not only my writing, but my ideas for writing. Something that looked so wonderful one day looks absolutely wretched the next.

Kathy said...

I usually get half-way through a novel and get stuck. Or bored with it. I'm excited when I start writing, then some of that wears off.

One thing I tried with my latest WIP was to skirt around the parts I didn't know how to write, then go back and fill them in later. I still haven't done that yet.

Janna Qualman said...

Marybeth, I hear you! I'm frugal (and these were very reasonably priced - of course, I found out why), and those price tags always give me pause.

Jenna - I was hoping you had the answers! *grin* I'm looking forward to your post. And I hope all is well for you.

Tess - Maybe it just means we've got discernment down, and that can't be a bad thing.

Lori - I love your comment. "In any light, it still looks right." Very nice.

Jessica - Absolutely! Good thinking. We must make use of the teams we've built around us.

Wendy - Listening, yes. It's often that still, small voice for me. I want to do what He wants of me, after all.

Melissa - It can be difficult, can't it? But there are ways to grow and learn from it, and by listening (see comment one up) and following our voice, we can make sense of it.

Kathy - You know, I've been tempted to do that, too. If I'm stuck, why not skip ahead to that next scene that's already building in my head? But thus far, I can't bring myself to write out of order. Not for the majority, anyway. For my first novel, when I got stunted two-thirds through, I skipped to the end and wrote the last chapter -- which helped me fill in what had to happen to reach that end. But right now? So early in the game? I'm not sure. (Good luck!)

Strange Fiction said...

I'd like to think we know we have something of worth when all of the doubts are gone. When the fit, colour, and style feel so right we can't wait to take those shoes out in public.

Rebecca Nazar said...

Oh, that's a tough one. Having great first-draft readers helps. Every piece has something redeemable. It's like breaking in a new pair of shoes, well worth it, but there's gonna be some blisters.

JLC said...

I think writing isn't black and white. What might be brilliant one moment, may seem loony the next. Our WIPs are 'living' creations that change and develop as we do. Sometimes they glow, sometimes they are dull. But I think if we had a 'formula' that makes them the same each and every day, it wouldn't be creative anymore... it would be like writing a math equation. (And how fun is that?)

Lazy Writer said...

This is a great post! (Especially the part about the shoes! :))

So many times I've written something that I'm excited about, and then go back and read it later, and it stinks! I hate it when that happens.

T. Anne said...

I think of that with my older WIP's. We're they just practice? Shall they never see the light of day? Perhaps all shouldn't because they're not 'me' anymore. Great post.

Stephanie Faris said...

My writing takes wrong turns sometimes, but I blame that all on me. I get a GREAT idea but somewhere in the execution, I go wrong. I've found when that happens all I can do is go back to where things went bad and start over.

quixotic said...

I know exactly what you mean. This usually happens after I take a few day's break from my MS. I come back and think to my self "this is all crap," and then the editing begins...

scarlethue said...

I suppose it has something to do with commitment-- we can try a lot of things on, but you have to be completely sure of them before you pull out your wallet and run your card (or email it off to a publisher). And it's that leap to commitment that's hardest.

Jody Hedlund said...

Even if the words don't shine as brilliantly as we first imagined, the process of writing them and using our creativity is definitely part of our growing, don't you think?

Janna Qualman said...

Strange Fiction - Sometimes we just know. And I love that.

Becca - Great addition to the analogy!

JLC - That makes beautiful sense! Thanks for expressing it in such a way.

Lazy Writer - I thought you might like that. ;)

T. Anne - I agree! My voice has changed a lot, and my target it different from when I first started writing. So nothing fits like it did back then.

Stephanie - I like that we have the ability to start over.

quixotic - And I also like the ability to edit. :)

scarlethue - You might be right.

Jody - Oh, absolutely. I really do feel that way.

Jeannie Campbell, LMFT said...

yep...price tag does that for me quite a lot. :)

Heather Sunseri said...

This happened to me about 25k words into a manuscript. I took around two months off and came back to it with renewed enthusiasm and rewrote the entire thing. Now, I love it and am close to 60k words.

ralfast said...

I think it's the other way around. You start with something very rough in the back of the shop: some leather strips, a rubber sole and the like. After much work you end up with a shoe, functional but not great. You add a few more details and then it goes in the window for sale, basking in the light of hard work and total dedication to the craft.

Melanie Avila said...

I LOVE this analogy. I'm a shoe person (just ask anyone who knows me...) and completely understand that last second of hesitation.

I'm going through that with my wip now. I think it's got potential but it's kinda meh.

Analisa said...

The first thing I ever wrote was full of rejection and depression. I was unintentionally writing an autobiography of my past and at the time a lot of pain.

It was not fit for human consumption. I only really saw that after I came up from the pit I was in into the light.

I really enjoy what I write now, but it is not all daisies. :)

Kathryn Magendie said...

I wrote a story that an anthology accepted ... they kept it a while and I didn't know it was published until I looked it up! - maybe two years had gone by! Well, when I read it again, I thought the ending sucked - it needed work - I was upset I didn't have a chance to work on it one more time....

But, when I sent that piece in originally, I loved it - it was Done, it was just fine. The anthology publishers liked it - everyone was happy

What changed in me?

We can always find fault with the things we create, I suppose. And sometimes time and distance creates new thought.

I will say this -- with the tender graces novel, I do feel Done (good thing, since it's published and there's no going back!). I do feel it is a beautiful work - and I'm proud of it -- which is why I have to learn to hold to those feelings no matter what...it is truly one of the few things I am really proud of and wouldn't change even if I could.... *smiling*

Nadine said...

I put my WIP aside in February as I got sick of it and didn't feel it was going anywhere. I've just started working on it again (and after some Beta notes) and I'm seeing it in a whole different light - it's great!

oddiexo said...

heyyy thats pretty true lol
that was a good analogy too =0)

Janna Qualman said...

Jeannie - I often think it's best that way. ;)

Heather - It can definitely work to our benefits at times!

Very nice, Rafael. :)

Melanie - Will you shoe shop when you come home?

Analisa - It sounds like you made the best of a bad situation, and healed yourself in the process. Good for you.

Kat - I really appreciate your thoughtful comment. "Time and distance create new thought." So poignant. And I think you're right to be so proud of TG.

Nadine - A prime case of this circumstance working for our benefit!

Oddiexo - Thanks! And glad you stopped by. :)

Terri Tiffany said...

First let me say that whenever I read one of your posts like this, I hear your voice in it so strongly and you transport me into a whole different time and place.
But as to your question, yes, I have gone back and reread work and cringe--where did the beauty go??

Kara said...

Yes, happens quite a lot to me. Usually when I write something that is near and dear to my heart I easily loose that objectivity. Then someone else reads it and makes so comments on how to make it better etc. and I quickly see if for what it is:)

Melanie Avila said...

Janna, probably not because of that money thing. But I may browse.

Janna Qualman said...

Terri - Thank you so much for saying so. I only wish I could find this voice (it's mine, I know it) throughout construction of my WIP.

Kara - That's a great point. Good thing we do have helpers!

Hey, Melanie, there's nothing wrong with browsing. ;)

lakeviewer said...

You have an interesting way of posing the question. We, the creators, react differently to our work; perhaps too critical, or not critical enough. We can't judge. We can only forge ahead, doing our best, as we know it. The real worth comes from objective eyes, the readers who don't know us; the readers who fall in love with the work without any hesitation; the readers who do not ask any more than to finish reading.

Karen said...

Yes,when I bring my writing out into the light for others to see their thoughts, then the shoddiness is exposed. Also when I give my writing a bit of time, I can catch some of the flat soles. Wonderful example!!

Thanks

Janna Qualman said...

lakeviewer - It is a subjective question, isn't it? And I agree with you: the ultimate worth comes from those who enjoy it at its most straightforward of offerings.

Karen - And I like those examples you gave! :)

septembermom said...

This analogy works well. Putting a value on your writing piece can be difficult. We are our worst critics.

Janna Qualman said...

septembermom - "We are our worst critics." Sad, but true.

Jill Kemerer said...

This happens to me too. What is it about store lighting? I like how you tied it to writing.

thedomesticfringe said...

I've done the same thing with clothes! I'm just fickle I guess.

-FringeGirl

Deb Shucka said...

It seems like the passing of time and brighter light are the answer. Maybe to more than just this question. :-)

Janna Qualman said...

Jill - And their dressing room mirrors, too. Ew.

FG - And sometimes I buy it anyway, but then feel buyer's remorse. LOL

Deb - I think you're wise. :)

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