Saturday, April 12, 2014

Mistakes Can Make Us Smarter by Vonnie Davis

We learn by our failures--if we're smart.

If we're not so smart, we're close to the other end of the mental spectrum. Or so Einstein claimed when he said, "Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results." Granted, he was probably speaking on a scientific level. But the same concept could be applied to life in general. 

If I keep planting the same flowers the deer, that daily meander through our yard love to eat, then I'm not using my brain cells to their fullest capacity.

If I go on a diet, except for Oreos and potato chips and pizza, and still can't lose the weight, well, I'm not the smartest dieter, am I?

And if I keep buying the same size shoes that pinch my feet, then by golly I deserve a good foot pinching. Why? Because I'm not learning from my mistakes.

The same applies to our writing. My first book was written in omniscient point of view. As an English major, I'd studied the masters who often wrote using that method. But that was back in the day before editors' and readers' tastes changed. I had to learn from my mistakes and change too.

Over the past four years, different editors have pointed out weaknesses in my writing--God bless them all. My failure to deliver a better quality manuscript became a learning experience at the hand, or pen, or tract changes of teaching editors. By being open-minded, I learned and grew.

I'm always saddened to hear other writers refuse to work with editors to improve a story. Some tend to feel they've written a masterpiece that should not be touched or changed. Yes, there does come a time when an author has to protect her characters, her plot arc and her voice. But, more often than not, if you communicate with your editor, a workable compromise can be made. That teachable moment can still exist. And failures, or weaknesses within the manuscript, can lead to success.

I've done a bit of remodeling at my website to announce my future releases with Loveswept/Random House and Harper Impulse. I hope you'll stop by and check it out.


Diane Burton said...

Oh, Vonnie, I know exactly what you mean. In my first manuscript, I had everybody's point of view, including the dog's--and didn't know it until a kind contest judge pointed it out. I sure learned that lesson. If we don't learn from our mistakes, we don't grow.

Liz Flaherty said...

Love the butterflies...You're so right about the learning, although the old person in me has to admit that I miss omniscient POV--I liked reading it. :-)

Jannine Gallant said...

I've learned from every editor I've had. There's always something we can do to improve our work. Nice website!

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Oh Diane, I've made so many mistakes and still do. They say the learning curve of a good writer is continual. Let's hope ours never ends.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

There are some well-known authors who still get by with using it. But so few editors allow it, Liz. And that goes for agents, too. Mine won't take on any manuscripts written in omniscient.

Vonnie Davis ~ Romance Author said...

Thanks, Jannine. My website needed a bit of a facelift. I think good editors are also teaching editors. I often email back asking if she could tell me why I need to change something so I can learn not to do it in the future. And I always get a nice, lengthy response, which strengthens our editor/author relationship.

Leah St. James said...

Beautiful remodeling, Vonnie! You're so right about editors. At my day job (in the newsroom), our top-top editor says, "Even the editor needs an editor." We see things in our head that we don't always capture on the page, so we need fresh/different eyes looking at our work.

Unknown said...

Excellent post, and your site looks great!

I agree, as both an editor and author, I find comments from others invaluable. I'm always thrilled when an author lets me know they've learned something from me, but I also learn from them. And from my critique partners, and from readers, and, of course, from editors. It definitely helps to be open to advice. I hope to keep changing and growing as a writer.