The ISWG is a blog hop where writers can share their fears and insecurities about the writing life. To learn more, check out their website here.
On November 30, 2012, I was sitting at my desk at work when I remembered a story I’d tried to write in high school. It was a blend of Fanfiction and original fiction, loosely based in the world of Lois Lowry’s Gathering Blue, about a blind violinist and a deaf painter who became friends and learned about the world through each other. For much of 2012, I’d been busy in the world of Harry Potter Fanfiction, perfecting my craft and preparing myself because I knew I wanted to write a novel, but I wasn’t sure what about yet.
That idea I’d had as a sophomore or so in high school evolved over the next few months until it was set in its own world, with characters I was happy to be writing and a plot I was enamored with. So I wrote it. By August of 2013, I found QueryTracker because I thought I was nearly ready to start querying it. Instead, I found two critique partners and another grueling round of edits. I queried it in 2014 without much success, but by then I didn’t care. I–the writer who never has ideas for what to write about–had another idea.
I wanted to write it in November 2013, but I was first-trimester pregnant and therefore far too sick to sit at a computer often enough to get the words out. So in November 2014, as my unsuccessful attempts at querying my first book were coming to an end, I participated in NaNoWriMo with a near-future AU about a boy who knew when he was going to die and his quest for meaning.
I started querying it in mid-2015, one more critique partner added to my group, hopeful words from them that it was better than my first and it was only a matter of time. By the time my rejections (this time to partials and fulls instead of queries!) started rolling in, I had decided to write the book of my heart.
Read: the book that I would be absolutely terrified to try writing.
I was pregnant again in November 2015, but only weeks from my due date, so I wasn’t sick and felt like I could manage NaNoWriMo again. I didn’t win, but I got the first half of a contemporary book written. I finished the draft at the end of May 2016. After letting it breathe for a month, I started editing in July. I haven’t finished that very first round of edits yet.
So as I write this (on November 30, 2016), I’ve been actively working at getting published for four years. I’ve written three books and queried two of them. I would have been so unhappy if I’d been told four years ago that instead of an agent and a publishing contract and a book tour in place for my second novel in the dystopian series, I would be on book number three, genre number three, with two lovely children instead of an agent and/or book deal, I would have been so unhappy. Four years looking forward feels like forever.
But four years looking back feels like a blink.
My goal for 2016 was to have my newest novel–a contemporary with a Hispanic main character and too many parallels to the life I’ve lived (both of which I’m scared to write about)–ready to query, to send out my first before December 31, 2016. But I’m not even ready to send it to my critique partners (although I have acquired a fourth!). I want to do this book justice. I want it to be good enough. So I look back on my hard-copy edits to my first two books, and notice how little I changed the hard stuff, the ways I glossed over addressing the plot/pacing/character issues as I edited. And I look at the absolute mess I’ve made of my current edit. I have ten entirely new scenes. I spent a week reworking one section, and two weeks reworking another–figuring out the issues I had, and getting a scene down to its bones and rebuilding it from there.
My first draft of this novel was, probably, objectively better than my other two first drafts. But I’m tearing it apart more, rearranging it like a jigsaw, digging in and really looking at everything that makes a book a book.
Will it work yet? I have no idea. But I don’t have another idea of what to write after this one (except maybe a companion novel that I won’t write unless this one succeeds), so I feel like I have to revise until it’s ready, query it, and if it doesn’t do well, accept (with happiness, because it’s in many ways my dream job) that I’m doing well as an editor and leave it at that.
So there’s my insecurity for the week: Writing is a long game–way longer than I (in my ignorant arrogance) had imagined. And after this play, which could admittedly take six more months with CP schedules and any revision notes they have and whatnot, I’m at a loss for what to do next. But this book–this book is one I’m proud of.