“As a professional book editor, I spend much of my time focused on how a manuscript can be improved, aka what is wrong with it. Admittedly, a paralysis can come from attending too closely to that with your own work—if you only see how much in it is broken, you might lose hope of ever mending it.
At the same time, I find nothing so opens my creative floodgates as that big question: What is wrong with my book? Sometimes you can drive yourself crazy tweaking sentences hoping those micro fixes will fix whatever macro problems you have. But sometimes—usually, I’d argue—it’s the macro problem that’s creating the dam, and only by looking for it carefully (excruciatingly, torturously) can you burst through it. I like to ask myself questions about my book that can seem cruel: Are these characters flat? Who could possibly relate to these cardboard monsters? Why does their lame little story even matter?
Poor manuscript. It’s mildly sadistic, I realize. But if I can come out on the other side of this self-interrogation absolutely certain the characters are rich and big and engaging and that their story does matter, I know that, whatever smaller doubts sneak into me, I will still find a way to tell it.”
—Daniel Loedel, author of Hades, Argentina (Riverhead Books, 2021)
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