Disastrous Learning Curve

I cried a little today. I was going to keep it quiet – as one usually does – and then I thought, “Hey. I can’t be the only writer who deals with this sort of thing,” and decided a better idea would be to talk about it.

You see, a friend on Twitter decided to post something inspirational, and she chose the first lines of great books. She highlighted everything from old(er) classics like Jules Verne to new(er)-and-fantastic like Richelle Mead. I thoroughly enjoyed them. They were a great way to jump-start my brain, to get into the proper mood for writing. Yet as I read these fantastic first lines, a funny thing happened.

I suddenly saw – finally saw, where I was incapable of seeing it before – a very amateur error in the book currently on submission.

Panicked seal says AAAAH!

It’s an incredibly basic thing – a tweak of POV, necessary to engage the reader – and yet I missed it. I missed it completely. And that manuscript is currently sitting on the desk of people I’d really rather did not see that error.


Of course, this happened when I’m trying to fight the flu, so I was hardly in any condition to deal with it. For about five minutes, I was absolutely sure my chance was ruined. That was it; all gone. My writing life was over, I’d failed, my favorite baby book would never see the light of printday.


AND THEN… I did not come to my senses before getting back in the saddle.

I mentally knew this was a ridiculous surge of emotion, half-caused by the painful growth of patience, half-caused by being physically unwell, and so, though I did not feel like it at all, I put on some good music and went back to writing. Writing while sniffling and occasionally wiping my eyes, but writing well. The emotion didn’t go away just because I got busy, but do you know something? I accomplished a metric tonne of work. And it’s good. Better quality than before, in large part because of the wicked-hard realization I had regarding my already-submitted-manuscript.

So I guess what I’m saying is this: get back in the saddle. Learning while we go is one of the priviliges of being alive, and if we’re not willing to take a low blow once in a while, then we simply won’t learn. Learning makes us better, and stronger, and more capable.

Even when it means disastrous first lines.

(Puppy photo by Dave Apple)


A three-times bestselling author, Ruthanne Reid has led a convention panel on world-building, taught courses on plot and character development, and been the keynote speaker for the Write Practice Retreat. Author of two series with five books and fifty-plus short stories, Ruthanne has lived in her head since childhood, when she wrote her first story about a pony princess and a genocidal snake-kingdom and used up her mom’s red typewriter ribbon in the process. When she isn’t reading, writing, or reading about writing, Ruthanne enjoys old cartoons with her husband and two cats, and dreams of living on an island beach far, far away. P.S. Red is still her favorite color.