Sunday, July 23, 2006

Someone recently asked me, “Aren’t you done with that book yet? How much longer is it going to take? Why do you keep changing it? Just send it in—see what happens.”

I’ve been writing longer than some, less than most. Am I published? Except for a few short stories online, no. Is it in my plans? Absolutely! Yet as much as I’d love to have that first contract, I refuse to rush through it. Right or wrong, I’ve taken the same approach to writing as I have everything else in my life. I jump in head first, learn all I can, and ask questions later. I know at some point I will type the words, “The End” and mean it. That will only happen, though, when I can read through the entire manuscript without picking up my red pen.

Let’s face it, all first drafts are crap. Sorry, but I’m suspicious of any person who claims that he or she can complete a novel in two or three drafts. Personally, I've lost track of how many times I’ve edited my manuscript. Creativity doesn’t come from a set of formulas and rigid templates. It comes from a vivid imagination, an open mind, and the willingness to accept change. By the way, I found that the best changes have been the result from the most brutal critiques, but that’s another post.

I’m close. Very close. But anyone who is serious about writing understands the demands on their time. It’s been a conscientious decision of mine to do this and I’m very fortunate to have a family who understands and respects the sacrifices I’ve made to achieve my goal. What a waste it would be to not strive for the very best.

6 comments:

Mike said...

Ah, the old 'first draft is crap' theory. I am a firm believer. The internal editor is about the worst person you can invite to the dance when you're taking your story idea out for a spin. Just when you get a flow of ideas, he's poking you in the ribs telling you you're clumsy, dull and should be at home collecting stamps instead of wasting your time with this writing thing. What does he know?!

Of course the other side of the coin is that you mother your creation beyond craft until it's only a tepid version of its original self.

tjstephens said...

Thanks for your post, Mike.

Good points.

I've had discussions with folks who, for whatever reason, refuse to edit their work (amazing) and others who, as you say, have mothered their creation beyond craft. The latter have spent years on their MS only to tossed them aside because they could never quite measure up to their IE’s standards. What a waste.

It's a matter of knowing how far you can push your skills and having the confidence to say, "I've done my best. Let's see what an agent/publisher says." Fortunately, my IE hasn't told me I'm wasting my time--yet. Then again, I haven't quit my day job either. LOL

Vanessa said...

Well said! I feel ya gurl! Keep doing your thing. Happy writing.

Andreya said...

Wow, you're such an inspiration!!

I've been told these exact words ('Why Haven't You Written Your Book Yet?') so many times - and have lost track of rewriting too!

But your success gives me so much hope!! YAY!! CONGRATULATIONS!!

Anonymous said...

I am an aspiring writer. I've found this comment so inspiring, I'm nudged to again open my first draft of crap and start anew!

Your quote:
Let’s face it, all first drafts are crap. (snip)
Creativity doesn’t come from a set of formulas and rigid templates. It comes from a vivid imagination, an open mind, and the willingness to accept change.

Flip

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