I spend a lot of time beating myself up about different things. 1 of those things is the fact that I started my novel 10 years ago and, as it currently stands, Rapture is a bit more than 1/3 complete…that’s an estimate based how many pages I have and the amount of detritus that I’m going to have to cut. I haven’t had the resolve to open it up and start cutting yet. I am saving that for the weekend. I know that this is a process that all writers…published or not…go thru but that isn’t helping at this point. I want to have it at least marked up by the end of the weekend. That doesn’t sound like a lofty goal, but it is. These are my words…well thought out or not. I have to read it and then decide where it went flying at warp speed off of the rails. Then I will need to pick through it to find any scenes that can be salvaged and move those to a safe place and work them in as I do the rewrite. The funny thing is that we, as writers, can hear the false notes in our writing when we really listen. It’s the choosing to really listen that is difficult to do. We want to believe that what we write is gold or even silver but know deep inside that it’s not. It’s a bit difficult to accept but we must in order to find and write the very best poem, novel, essay, short story, etc…, that we have inside of us. We are imperfect beings and we are going to write some dreck here and there because we’re trying so hard to get to the finish line. And that’s perfectly natural and it’s okay. We just have a hard time stepping back from our passion piece and asking ourselves a hard question…what sucks? And then being brutally honest with ourselves as we read. We aren’t the first writers to do this. Every single published author had to go thru this brutal dissection with every book they’ve written. And when they thought they were done, the editor, agent or publisher pointed something else out that they thought needed to be changed or deleted. Wherever we are, no matter how long it’s taken us to get there, is exactly where we are meant to be at that time. Stop measuring yourself against these prolific authors that publish a new book every 6 months. They have been writing, usually, for many years and have developed a formula for the type of books they write. Mysteries, thrillers, romance novels, etc…, all have a formula. We don’t want to acknowledge that because it doesn’t feel creative enough. And many of them write series of books where their main characters and locales were introduced in the very first book so they don’t have to spend a good portion of the rest of the books introducing and fleshing out their characters and settings. They can just jump into the book and go. Just like 1 + 1 = 2, protagonist + antagonist = conflict. Build the frame of your house and then add the drywall, paint, and carpet as you go. If you’re a pantser like me, have an idea of where your characters and the book are going. You don’t have to have an outline or a wall full of index cards with possible scenes written on them…just think about the finished book. What do you want to happen? What has to occur in the book to reach that conclusion? General questions that you narrow down as you go. We can do this but we have to stop comparing our writing to the writing of others…especially authors that have been at it for many more years than we have been. It’s okay to say that you want to write like a certain author but don’t get so totally hung up on that ideal book that you freeze up because you figure out that you’ll never be that author. Just write the book that’s inside you. The world needs different voices, different ideas, different viewpoints, and your unique brand of creativity. We are where we’re at for a reason. We might not understand what that reason is at the moment but just accept it for what it is while continuing to move in the direction of where we actually desire to be. The only thing that you can do wrong is to get stuck where you are if it isn’t where you want to end up. Just keep moving.
“Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” ~ Thomas Edison