I'm a large woman. You wouldn't think I could get lost. But I did. Somewhere in 2016, or perhaps earlier, I lost myself. Or rather my ability to write like me. Sounds dramatic, doesn't it? Imagine the newspaper headlines: "Great-grandmother Disappears Inside Laptop."
But who reads the newspapers anymore?
The fact remains, a Big Five publisher I was uber thrilled to be with and an editor I thought I adored sucked the writer out of me.
Frankly, there wasn't a whole lot left in my head. I mean the body remained, but we don't need to go there. The writer Vonnie Davis was in a major case of doubt. I'd gone from two publishers who barely had me make edits on my writing to one who pulled out my eyelashes one-by-one. With each book, their demands got worse.
No secondary characters, except in a brief mention.
Thin, thin plots. Nothing suspenseful.
Use filter words and feels so the readers wouldn't have to think. I should tell them when they should feel anger, otherwise they wouldn't know.
Tell, don't show because readers don't get it otherwise. I nearly choked on my coffee.
Sex soon and often. Call a body part what it is. No cute or outdated euphemisms.
All of this involved changing my voice, the way I wrote, the way my stories flowed. I was writing crap and knew it. I argued. And was quickly reminded I was under contract. I shed a lot of tears for the writer I once was, because I was ashamed of the altered version I was forced to become.
It was an emotionally rough journey no writer should have to make. Yes, we all need editing, direction, suggestions, but not lobotomies to our writing voices. Now I'm in a sinking state. I flounder at every stroke of swimming for the shore of ME. What if I can't find myself again?
You'd think it would be simple. Right? Just do it. But as CP's read my work, they're asking me where I've gone. They're telling me to do things I haven't been allowed to do in years. No wonder some of my reviews are so bad. I'm going back to square one, learning all over again...at the age of 68 with 19 books published.
I don't mean to sound whiny. Call it frustrated. I thought once I'd made it to that level, I'd be doing well. Guess who had a cruel lesson to learn.
For those of you who write, hang tight to your writer identity. Don't do as I did and assume because these editors work for the biggest publisher in the world, they are the "be all and end all" in editorial knowledge. Their eyes are on the market, the bottom line, the big buck--not quality writing. Be true to yourself.
I had to learn to do that. I had to learn to risk breach of contract and simply say, "No. I'm not writing like that. I can't." Now I'm trying to undo the damage and bad habits I picked up while being one of their writers. But then, a writer's learning curve is continual, isn't it? Read more about me at www.vonniedavis.com