Sunday, November 27, 2005


When does style and point of view become more important than the meat of the story itself? I've been preparing a story for a contest and ran it past a dozen fellow writers for comments and suggestions to improve it. The results were positively paralyzing. Conflicting. Frighteningly so. My point of view was this, and that, and wrong, wrong, wrong. I rewrote and rewrote, and still it was "inconsistent."

I had faith in myself up to a point. I believed I was correct. But after so many experienced writers banged the same drum, I began to waffle. Finally I just cried. I couldn't understand what was inconsistent, or wrong, about it. I wouldn't be entering the contest if I didn't believe I had at least a rat's chance in hell of winning or placing. So if I couldn't even keep to one point of view (by some's standards), what chance do I stand of placing in a contest? Will the judges agree with my associates? Will they agree with me?

Finally, I sent the story to an excellent editor whom I trust implicitly. She told me that many writers are confused about points of view and that my story was perfectly fine, that I maintained a consistent POV and not to worry about it.

But now I'm concerned that the judges might not understand as well as she did.

Some of you are reading this thinking, "Why doesn't she just believe in herself and follow her gut?" That's what I'm going to have to do. But it staggers the mind that either I or my associates have such a poor grapse of what points of view are that we differ so widely.

It's enough to make one stop writing altogether. Seriously.


Richard said...

Hello Ginger! I wouldn't sweat the vagaries. I would find one or two really trustworthy readers and stick with them. Every story has its debatable points, whether stylistic, grammatical, or philosophical. Just keep on truckin', lady!

Ginger said...

Thanks, Richard, for the encouragement. Normally I'm fairly thick-skinned. Guess it's a moon phase or something...

Richard said...

Mercury is in retrograde. It can mess up human communication.

H.E.Eigler said...

POV is a very hard thing. I constantly struggle with it, that and maintaining tense. You aren't the only one who fights with these things and I'm sure you do a hell of a lot better job than many writers. Keep at it and yes, you should trust your judgment!

Sharon Hurlbut said...

Oh Ginger, don't give up! I've got the same thing going on right now with some of my poetry, and I know, deep in my heart, that I have to shut out everything except my own voice.

There are a lot of well-meaning people out there who don't actually know what they're talking about when it comes to writing. Trust yourself. And if you're unsure, set the piece aside a while and come back later. One of the hardest lessons for me to learn has been patience with my writing. There's always that excitement on finishing, and the desire to rush it out into the world for recognition and praise. I have to fight that urge to send things off immediately, but I'm always glad I did.

Don't give up. Don't let other voices drown your own.

Ginger said...

Thanks, everyone. I know we all get to that point, where we question ourselves and our writing. I'm a little past the point of never writing again thanks to everyone's support.

All I can say is thank you.