As I mentioned in “An Adventure Begins,” I have finished the second full draft of my novel, and am working on editing it again. Writing is a process, and one that takes a lot of time. My very first inklings of this story were completely different than what it has become. I started by writing it in poem format, as a sort of outline. But I am impatient, and skipped writing over half of it so that I could begin the prose. I didn’t even write a fourth of what I had planned before I realized that the plot wouldn’t work. And so I began changing it. That was when I started expanding the World.
A new story bloomed out of those efforts, similar only in that a few of the characters were kept – though changed a great deal. I worked for about two years, in disconnected periods of creativity, to complete that first draft. Then in June of 2012, I sat back, breathed a sigh of relief and said “I am done.”
Only I wasn’t done. I am a perfectionist. As many know, a first draft is nowhere near perfection. And so I worried over it, wondering what I could possibly do to salvage it, to make it tighter, to make it matter. I made one false start at editing later that summer, and then classes started again and I was busy working on my senior project and going on field trips for my religion class. I didn’t have time to write.
But writers always make time. That’s the biggest lesson I have learned. If you are a writer, you will make time to write. And so I did. I started rewriting. I added detail and changed dialogue, I tried to tighten up the story. And then I stopped. I hit a block. My plot wasn’t quite working and I couldn’t explain why to my friends, who seemed to just tell me that it was great and that I didn’t need to do anything. So I changed tactics. I began writing a prequel. While I was writing that, my World changed, and I knew how to fix my plot.
With renewed vigor, I set back to editing, and even gave my story a new title. Midway through February of this year, I finished the edit, and was left with a new draft. I took a few weeks off, to let the words rest. I started working on the sequel, planning it out and writing scenes, even a few chapters. Then I came back to my full draft. I have been editing it for some weeks now, and am part way through editing chapter five (each chapter has about 4 thousand words).
My point in writing this is that writing is a process, and it isn’t always easy. It shouldn’t be easy. It takes time and dedication and good friends to encourage you when the going is tough.
One of my college professors liked to say that writing isn’t a solitary act, that it is an act of community. What she meant by that was that we have to talk about writing, share our writing. Because only through discussion does it improve.
Take care, fellow travelers.