Good morning, blog. It’s been a while.
As you may have noticed, I haven’t posted here in… a while. I’m still here, still writing, but I really lost touch with my blog as I intensified my focus and my efforts on my fiction writing and the revision of my work-in-progress. It has been a long journey from my first book to the current one, and it isn’t over yet. I have learned more than I can possibly enumerate here over the past few years, but I’ll throw out some highlights.
Writing is hard.
It wasn’t until I started editing this book that I knew that to be true. I had never found writing a first draft to be that hard. When I edited my previous books on my own, it was hard, but not overly cumbersome. But I have gone further with this book than I have before – I sent it to beta readers; I’ve had parts of it critiqued; I’ve entered contests with it; and I’ve spent more hours writing, rewriting, restructuring, and generally reworking it than I have done with any other single book I’ve ever written. It’s been exhausting, frustrating, and has challenged my sense of worth on more than one occasion, but it’s also been rewarding and exciting and fun.
Feedback is invaluable.
While a lot of feedback and criticism must be taken with a grain of salt – it’s still the writer’s story, after all – another pair of eyes on the manuscript can do wonders. Someone else can pick out those places where the pacing is slow, where there’s too much summary (telling instead of showing), when the dialogue is choppy, where the loose ends lie, and plenty of other useful things that the writer may not notice. Especially when she has been rereading and revising the same scene or chapter for too long…
Workshops and books on craft CAN help.
At some point, I got it into my head that writing workshops and books on writing were either a) only for beginners who’ve never written a word of fiction or b) a scam set up by mediocre to average writers who failed to sell their own books but feel they know enough to try teaching others how to get started. I have been proved 100% wrong. Of course, there are workshops just for beginners, but there are plenty for intermediate writers as well. And while I’m sure there are plenty of workshops set up by people who are just trying to make a quick buck, I’ve gotten a lot out of the workshops I’ve attended this past year, and I’ve found plenty of free ones as well as paid ones available. Ditto for books. There are a number of great books on writing out there on everything from style and grammar to plot and point of view. (Bonus: a lot of them are available through the public library, so I didn’t have to buy any of them unless I wanted to.)
I’ve learned so much working on this book, but it still has a-ways to go if I want to submit it to any agents or publishers. That said, while I have been making an effort to improve my knowledge and skills as a writer, I haven’t contributed as much time this year as I did last year to actually working on the book. Unfortunately, I am getting to this point when people ask me about it:
It’s not like I’ve been working on this book for three WHOLE years, but from when I started writing the first draft to now, it’s almost three years exactly. But, I know I have to take those sorts of comments and skepticism in stride. It’s done when it’s done, dammit.
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