Welcome! Today is the first double-dip day of the month, with Insecure Writer’s Support Group and the letter E in the A-t0-Z Challenge falling on the same day.
And as it turns out, I have just enough E-type insecurities to make it work.
I’ve reached the point that Effort is a big issue for me. I’m getting into good habits, and doing the things a professional writer should do, according to all the advice and pithy little mottoes. I’m writing every day. I’m writing… actually, kind of a lot every day. And at a thousand words per day, done religiously and with diligence, that adds up to a lot of raw ore.
My hard drive is bowing under the weight of a thousand word (or more) per day. In one of the more shocking moments of my writing life, I was “organizing” the hard drive recently, and found… A 90k manuscript I’d completely forgotten I wrote. So, that’s the situation. I have a LOT of words in a LOT of different stories, in a state of glorious first draft Entropy.
And that’s where Effort comes in.
At some point, if I want to be a professional writer, I have to make the Effort to Edit and revise, at least some of these stories. And… because there’s so much volume in my literary slag heap of doom, I have to choose which stories are worth the Effort.
And that represents a complete, world-shifting change in Expectations.
The first time you write a novel… whatever the genre, and whatever the circumstances… you start out, and you’re not really sure that you can do it. You’re looking at a blank sheet of paper, and wondering how you get from there to War and Peace, or Harry Potter, or the Phone Book (whatever). And the whole thing looks like this monumental, completely implausible, and probably impossible task. After all, you’re going to write something that’s ten times longer than the longest theme paper you ever groaned over in school.
And then–somehow– you finish, and you start editing, and editing that book–the one you weren’t sure you could finish, and you’re not sure you could do again–becomes the impossible task. And you get caught in the quagmire between impossible accomplishment (I wrote a book!) and impossible goals (I have to edit a book?)
I kept writing new things… and I kept editing that first novel. And writing got much, much, much easier.
Editing got easier, too. I “finished” my revision, and sent the novel on submissions, and got rejections where people noticed I had a name, sent feedback, and **gulp** requested future work.
And all this took time. I kept writing, and I have that backlog of work I mentioned.
The thing about a first novel is that you have the most inexperienced editor working on a manuscript written by the most inexperienced writer. Improve either one of those things, and the whole process gets easier. And quicker. And more plausible.
Of course, that’s also going to mean more output to edit, so in the big picture, there’s always an impossible, implausible task ahead of you. I’m here, deciding whether the first novel is worth the Effort to Edit again, or if I have higher Expectations for one of the more recent novels. Trying to figure out which novel I expect to be my “THE” Novel.
I’m at the point where I’m not ready to give up on the first novel, but my attention is starting to stray. My expectations have changed.