Instead, most of us polish up our work until we think it shines with brilliant glory. We labour over it and try to get every word perfect. Sure, our fingers might tremble with anxiety when we finally hit send, but let’s admit it: we usually think our work is pretty darn good. Otherwise we probably wouldn’t put it out there.Be sure and chime in at her blog if you have some ideas beyond those that Jody lays out.
Yet . . . the large majority of manuscripts that agents and editors see just aren’t ready for publication. And in the contest I recently judged, most of the entries weren’t ready for publication either. They had potential but still needed more time and growth.
Why do we struggle to know our skill levels? When we’re just beginning, why do we often think we’re better than we really are? Why are most of us blind to our own faults?
For my part I think the biggest blinder to faults in my own writing is wilful disbelief. I know what line is supposed to sound like! See, the alliteration is cool if you read it like this! As if I could go to everyone's house and read them the sections they might need help with.
The thing that I have to remember as a novelist is that my prose is not a script that I will read on the radio. It's a script that the reader needs to be able to perform in their own heads, and if the direction ain't on the page, it ain't on the stage.
It turns out I can deny that over and over, I can be blind to it, but it matters. You don't just have to read your work aloud-- or at least aloud in your head-- you need to forget how it goes and then read it aloud.