This is January's post for Alex Cavanaugh's Insecure Writers Support Group. Click on the link to find other participants.
I have always been a late bloomer, one to consider things, to analyze the ramifications before moving forward.
(I wish this trait had resulted in the practice of thinking before I speak, but that’s a whole ‘nother topic, as they say.) This quality has resulted in a long life of waiting before I act –and you know what they say about “she who hesitates.”
Anyway, experiences in more recent history delivered the message that chasing after what I want feels a lot better than delaying—which is why I dared myself to write Novel #1, the first draft of which I completed early in 2011. I went through one re-write before abandoning it. I didn’t know how to make it any better than it was, and trust me, it wasn’t good.
Novel two was born, no word of a lie, when the first sentence came to me in the middle of one sleepless night. I wrote it down and let it sit on my desk for several months until I was ready to write the story it belonged to. During the time I was writing it, I took a fiction writing workshop and joined two writing groups, where I have learned more about conflict and back story, character building, dialogue and story arcs. As a result, well, I have a little hope for it this second work
In Bird by Bird, Anne Lamott says, “For me and most of the other writers I know, writing is not rapturous. In fact, the only way I can get anything written at all is to write really, really shitty first drafts." The insecure writer in me is well aware that my own first draft is a piece of mud covered dung. I have a goal now, one that looms large and scary, of editing the heck out of it and then letting some folks I trust read it and critique it.
For the year ahead, I’m wishing for the vision to see what is broken, the openness to listen, the strength to respond to difficult criticism, and the skill to make my story cohesive and readable.
Then we’ll see if there is a query letter in my future.
I guess my practice of taking things slow hasn’t changed much after all.