Recently I have undergone the most painful experience a writer can have. It isn't rejection. It isn't a bad review. It isn't losing a day's work (back-up your work, people, this is a sign! :)).
What's so painful? Editing something I wrote eight years ago.
It's humbling to realise that all those rejection letters, all those slicing contest comments were actually...spot on. The book wasn't ready and I thank God it was never published even though I sold it to a company who (thankfully) went bust. Ironically I am also editing a connected book, HER SANCTUARY, and although it is much better, it has definitely benefited from a quick edit using my new improved authorial eye.
My old bad habits? Using too many words, so many words that the meaning of the sentence is lost in some dim and distant memory. Using dialogue tags that can be cut. Too many analogies (OMG). And my characters thoughts jumping around too much. Jeez.
I'm re-releasing HER SANCTUARY and the follow up, HER LAST CHANCE (Marsh and Josie's story, which had the wip title BLADE HUNTER) in the run-up to Christmas (assuming my freelance editor approves). I hope both books now meet reader expectation. I would have left HLC to languish on my hard drive, but I get so many reader letters asking me what happened to Marsh & Josie, I finally broke down and edited the manuscript. See me weep.
So what is this experience teaching me beside the usual dose of writer humility? (because we can never have enough of that, right?). Strangely it made me feel really proud of my more recent releases, including THE KILLING GAME, which you can buy for $0.99 (limited time only) as part of a Romantic Suspense Box Set promotion. I know, crazy price, huh?
I believe I am a better writer than I was eight years ago, but I still want to improve. The key to being a good writer, I think, is the drive to always want to write a better book.
Have you ever tried this? Have you ever had a clear sign about how much you've grown as a writer?