About a decade or so ago, I had a bunch of stressful things happening in my life. So I a) never ate and b) exercised all the time, which was a really bad combination, probably just as bad as eating too much and never exercising. Anyway, as a result, I was this little twiggy, unhealthy, size-0 thing.
But I can still remember, very clearly, sitting in the passenger seat of my husband's car as we travelled, looking at the reflection on the side window. Of the flesh of my thighs, spreading out across the seat.
And I thought, "Ew. I'm fat."
But I was a size zero.
Now as a healthy and normal size 8, I'll look at pictures of myself back then and think how positively skeletal I was. How sick I was.
This is something I remind myself of when I'm writing. When I read my work back to myself and think, "Wow, this stinks."
We are too close to ourselves, and to anything we create. We can not see it accurately. At least, not without stepping away from it for a few weeks or months.
I know some writers operate without critique partners. I am really not sure how they do it, and I'd love to know. I will occassionally think something I write is awesome and learn from my trusted friends that it is not. More often, I will think something I wrote is terrible, and learn that it actually isn't so bad. But I really have no idea, most of the time, where my stuff rates on the Suck-o-meter. Even after five books. No idea. I doubt I ever will.
I don't think it helps that writing is so subjective, and that one person's trash is another person's favorite book of all time. Often I'll send a book in after edits, thinking it needs another couple of drafts, only to be horrified that it was accepted and moved on to copyedits. I want to scream, "No, not yet!" hold it to myself as tight as I can, do a takeback. But it's too late. I try to comfort myself, "My editor is a pro, she knows when a book is ready." But most often I wallow in the thought of all the changes I could've made, that would have made it so much better.
It's so easy to see the flaws in yourself. So easy.
It's impossible to write a book without flaws, at least in someone's eyes.
A decade or so ago, I always had my husband, pulling me from the brink, telling me that I was perfect, just the way I was. Not that I was too thin, or too fat. In his eyes, I was more than my weight. I was perfect.
And now I have critique partners that do the same thing for me. So someone says my books are too short. So someone says my characters are whiners. So someone says that scene was too unbelievable. They tell me my books are more than that one character, or that one scene. And while my books may not be perfect to everyone, they may just be perfect for someone.
And that's enough for me. It should be enough for anyone. I hope it's enough for you.
And I hope you find yourself a wonderful critique partner. They are worth SO much.