Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Idea insecurity

I hate it when idea insecurity strikes.

I'm just about finished with a thorough outline of my new idea. Sure, there's a few subplot kinks to work out, one of the antagonists is a little foggy in my mind, and the climax gets somewhat gnarly (meaning I'm not quite sure how it all plays out). But I've found those details usually sort themselves out in the writing, which I WAS about to start.

Then last week, I was innocently scrolling through Twitter, and saw BookPage's review of an upcoming young adult novel: A Wounded Name by Dot Hutchison.

"Set among the... prestigious boarding school Elsinore Academy, A Wounded Name opens after the sudden death of the school’s headmaster. Ophelia, a sophomore, knows that her father Polonius, the Dean of Curriculum, wants her to take her pills to keep her wild visions at bay, but other temptations beckon. The former headmaster’s son Dane, a senior, has the potential to become more than a friend. Dane’s mother quickly remarries to keep her position as chief hostess, the only role she’s ever known. Fellow senior Horatio balances studies with his devotion to his grieving best friend.

"A reader familiar with Hamlet will appreciate the way in which details from the play are translated into a boarding school setting...but what truly sets this retelling apart are the faerie creatures that only Ophelia can see and hear...they complement the story so naturally that readers might suspect that they were always there, just never mentioned. And although Ophelia still seeks final sanctuary in the lake, Hutchison undermines our assumptions about what awaits her under the water’s surface . . . and what might have driven her there. This is a highly recommended retelling by an author to watch."

I INSTANTLY added A Wounded Name to my LibraryThing list. What a COOL premise. What an Anne premise! So literary, mysterious, and magical!

My second thought? Why isn't MY new book that cool?

Sure, as the day went on, I remembered all the things I like about my new idea: it's a lot of fun, it's funny, the main character is perhaps the most likable I've ever written, I'm trying something new for me... But is it cool? And of course, more to the point, I'm getting old over here. Is it publishable? Is it the kind of idea that forces agents and editors to sit up and take notice?

I'm not sure. I don't have a good eye for those sorts of things when it comes to my own work. I wonder if I can get some of my crit partners to be painfully honest with me...

Anyone else suffer from the occasional idea insecurity? Do you plow through or go back to the drawing board?

By the way, on a TOTALLY different note, welcome back! I spent my summer vacation at my parents' cottage in Northern Michigan, reconnecting with family, some whom I haven't seen in years, and who haven't been all together in AGES.  And I welcomed my brand new, absolutely perfect nephew into the world, so I have to share!



13 comments:

  1. Beautiful nephew, Anne! Congrats!

    My insecurities usually come during the writing process. Not only does the writing not feel up to par with other books out there, but it falls short of the picture I have for the book in my head.

    I find the ideas that refuse to go away are the good ones. If this one has stuck around long enough to make it through an outline, then it's a good one!

    It's hard not to compare your own work to others, but I find it's so counterproductive! (Still find myself doing it, tough.) :)

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    1. Thanks for the words of wisdom, Katie! I think I'm exactly the opposite--I have the insecurity before and after writing, but I'm usually okay when I'm actually writing. Hmmm... maybe I do need to just get started!

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  2. Idea insecurity come in a flood *after* I complete what I feel is a spectacular offering, because *during* I put the blinders on in order to get the book written, and not look left or right.

    I'd encourage you to jump in the water and not read about other work out there, just long enough to at least get the first draft written. Only then you can see what you've got.

    Like your new adorable nephew who is at once just another cute baby and also the unique being he is.

    The example you gave, a retelling of the Hamlet story in a modern boarding school setting, makes the point perfectly. Been done before. And that writer had the hubris to think she can ride on the coattails of Shakespeare? Good for her.

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    1. I know you're right, Mirka. I hate to put all that time in to write the stupid thing first, but it probably is impossible to judge what I've got until I do. Thank you for the support, as always!

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  3. What a dollbaby! And I've been there too w/the idea probs. The worst was when I started reading City of Bones a couple of years ago- and I'd just started a wip w/a group of kids called Hunters in it. And CofB had kids in it called Shadowhunters(if you haven't read it). I changed my group to Trackers, but it just wasn't the same! Waah... =)

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    1. Thanks, Leandra! He really is! ;)

      Eeek! I have aliens called the Others, just like Fifth Element and Lost... Ah well! At least we're in good company with our ideas! ;)

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  4. Welcome back, Anne. What great pics! Congratulations on becoming an auntie.
    I often have idea insecurity when I'm reading the awesome blurbs of other books. I don't really have a solution. I just keep moving forward, doing the writing with the ideas I've been given.

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    1. Thanks, Ruth! Glad to know I'm not the only one struggling to even read book blurbs! But you're right, I can only work with the ideas I have...

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  5. Oh my gosh, all writers are insecure. You're totally not alone. My advice? Write for you. Write a story that you love and don't worry about anyone else. It's difficult, but it's fun. Write your dream story. Get it on the page; worry about rewrites and marketing later.

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    1. This is so true. Thanks for the reminder, Sara.

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  6. Insecurity exists in every project at every stage of the process, perhaps even more so *after* you get the agent and the book deal and all that. But you did the most important thing you can possibly do: fall back in love with your idea. I constantly get barraged by other books that make me feel like a worse person for not having written them, that just blow me away and make me feel inadequate, but then I go back through my notes, and I reminisce on my characters, and I get excited again.
    Best of luck to you!

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    1. Thanks so much for stopping by, Dot! And for reminding me that this is all part of the process, even for people who have written super cool books! ;) It's good to remember I'm not totally alone in this insecurity!

      Best of luck with A Wounded Name, too!

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