Writers (and editors) can do well with a few doses of humility thrown into their lives here and there. It’s a great quality to put on in the morning and go to sleep with at night.
Hardly a sense of victimhood or defeatism, humility simply reminds us that there’s always room to improve. Which means that, no, we’re not God’s gift to everything and everyone. And yes, we should stop to consider other opinions every once in a while.
Of course, those reminders aren’t really writer- or writing-specific. They go a long way in any area of life.
I’m sure our political situation would be better if politicians on both sides of the aisle (or citizens on both sides of the aisle) didn’t arrogantly assume they either knew what was best for the nation or that the nation didn’t ultimately matter.
We’d certainly have a lot less wars if we, as a human race, would think a little less highly of ourselves. And really, remembering we have a whole lot of reasons to embrace humility and a whole lot of nothings to brag about would probably usher in as close to a utopia as we could possibly get on Earth.
Maybe writers could even lead the charge!
With that goal in mind, my fellow not-always-humble human beings, I’ll be the first to step forward and admit my failings.
Hello, my name is Jeannette DiLouie and I sometimes need a few doses of humility – something I got on Monday night.
While editing my second draft of Faerietales 5: Flights of Fancy, I started to get a bit of a big head after Chapter 1 was an overall breeze to edit, Chapter 2 was an editorial delight, and so were Chapters 3, 4 and 5.
As for 6? I adore Chapter 6! It takes a usually impenetrable but obnoxiously likable villain and forces him to be vulnerable for a few pages, giving new insights into his character and creating a whole lot of angst for the next 150 pages or so.
Not the romantic kind of angst, for the record. The overall arrogant little darling doesn’t get to be that lucky. We’re talking about the “He couldn’t have done it… Could he have?” variety.
After thoroughly enjoying that scene, it was on to Chapter 7, which needed a little bit more work, though still not much. And so, with such little effort required on my part, I honestly began to believe that, hey, maybe I’ve become such a stellar writer and editor by now that I don’t have to do six or seven drafts of a manuscript. Maybe I can get by with just five. Or maybe even four.
Hold the applause, please. No. Really. I’m blushing.
Not flattering to admit, I know. But fortunately, as Faerietales main character Sabrina might say, humility wing-slapped me back into reality once I reached Chapter 8.
After thinking that segment over carefully enough for the first draft and then editing it more carefully during the second draft, I can’t say it was absolutely horrible. Because it wasn’t. It just wasn’t almost-ready-to-publish manuscript material.
There were statements made that rather contradicted later plot points. The transitions between paragraphs and even some of the sentences were utterly mediocre. And there were a few “Do I have any idea what I’m talking about whatsoever?” parts as well.
Moreover, the exact nature of those issues makes me pretty certain that a few doses of humility are going to be my close companions for the rest of the manuscript. There’s going to be a good bit to clarify and straighten and reorganize before I’m through turning this second draft into a proper third draft on its way to becoming a final sixth or seventh draft.
But you know what? That’s okay. I’d much rather be humble anyway if that means I won’t be messing up other people’s lives, starting any unnecessary wars or complicating the world in general.
Humility really is a writer’s best friend: the kind that’s honest enough to remind us that there’s always room to grow.