A few weeks ago, I decided to re-read The Web of War. I’d polished and revised it so many times before I published it back in 2014 that I thought I’d never want to look at it again, but I was curious to see how I felt about it a year later.
I was also thinking depressing thoughts such as: “I might as well re-read and enjoy my book, since I doubt anyone else except Maggie will ever look at it.”
I read the first page and it made me cringe.
“No wonder no one else has ever got past the first few chapters!” I thought. “My book is rubbish!”
Of course, I didn’t think the story, the world or the characters were rubbish, because nothing could ever diminish my love for Askamar.
However, I couldn’t enjoy what I had written. All I could see were flaws. Every time I read a sentence, I longed to change it somehow. I got to Chapter 4 before I gave up.
I decided that I needed to re-write the whole thing. Then I began to worry that it would never be good enough, and that The Scepter of Ice would never be good enough either (if I’d unwittingly published one rubbish book, it could happen again!)
As you can imagine, I felt rather depressed.
Then I realized that this was just my perfectionism and anxiety trying to sabotage my creative efforts, as usual (see my earlier post on drawing). So what if The Web of War isn’t perfect? I enjoyed writing it, and some people might still enjoy reading it.
True, it’s worrying that no one except Maggie has managed to read more than a few chapters, but that’s probably because they don’t have much time for reading, or fantasy isn’t a genre they like. No one has said the writing was bad. In fact, I’ve often been told that I write well.
I’m not going to re-write the whole book. That would just be giving in to my perfectionism. I’m going to tell myself that I did my best, and that it’s good enough. For my own sake, I need more pride and confidence in my work.
However, I have decided to revise the first chapter to make it less confusing. I’ve also made some changes to the front cover.
I hope some people will feel inspired read The Web of War (and better yet, review it!), but if that doesn’t happen, I’m still going to feel proud of having written it.
From now on, I’m also going to give my posts tags like ‘epic fantasy’ and ‘fantasy writing’ in the hope that people might actually discover my blog. It would be really nice to have some readers!
Clearly, I was in a depressed mood when I wrote this. I later decided that I’d enjoy re-writing The Web of War and getting to experience the whole story again (for now I’m pleased with the improvements I’ve made to the book, but I’ll see how I feel when I get around to re-reading it in a few months!)
I also recently realized that the first chapter is incomprehensible to anyone who does not know Askamar as well as Maggie and I do. Too much happens and too many people are introduced at once. No amount of re-writing and polishing is going to solve that.
If I ever want anyone to read the book (and therefore the trilogy) my only choice is to write a completely new first chapter, and that’s not something I want to do, because I like the way the book opens. I fully accept that it’s my own fault that I have no readers!