Well, fellas and females, I’ve got an announcement.
It’s officially official.
I FINISHED THE ROUGH DRAFT OF MY NOVEL!!!! *cries tears of joy*
I started Though He Slay Me as a, oh, maybe twelve year old kid–in any case, many years ago. This novel–I can accurately it has changed my life. It has made me look in directions I’ve never dreamed of. It has brought me joy day by day. It has made my Google search history look a little bit…odd. It has improved my vocabulary, my researching skills, my novels. It has changed my life.
I’ve learned a lot of things about writing–and about life–that I’d like share to you because of this journey, which is far from over. I’ve only written the first draft; there’s still rewriting and editing to do–but I feel good. I didn’t know I’d ever make it this far until now. And so, here are some quotes, some funnies, and just some ‘stuff’ I learned about writing and about life while on this adventure.
1. Writing is hard.
Now, I know I’ve said this before but…until I really started writing my first draft, I had NO. IDEA. what I was getting myself into. All that writer’s block. All those long hours refusing to open up Word because I knew I wouldn’t like what I saw. All those clacked keys. Granted, I love it, but back then I wasn’t prepared at all.
But, in all honestly, I wouldn’t change my decision about choosing to become a writer, except maybe do it earlier. It has been one of best decisions of my life.
2. Everyone wants to read your story.
You have friends. You have to respect your friends, you told yourself. “I mean, come on, self. We can’t just let them down…but they don’t understand what a rough draft is! This is absolute trash…why do they want to read it?!” Now, I’m not saying I don’t like the support, and occasionally I do allow some of my peeps to read my work because somebody is actually going to take it seriously and I think it would be good for them to critique me. But, eventually, I got to the point where I realized something: They are reading a story that will not be the same two years from now. This will be different. It will be better. It will be good. And I don’t want all my friends to maybe not read my work when I get published because “Oh, I already that book last year.” And, I want them to be surprised at how good I can become and not see me stumbling along each step of writing, re-writing, and editing process. I want to blow their socks off.
3. First drafts are absolute trash
I didn’t really know much about the writing process until I actually started writing this book, and let me tell you….this, the first draft, should be burned. I guess I never really thought about how difficult writing is and how many drafts it takes to perfect a book until I was about ten pages in to my novel. Rewriting? Editing? Sounds great to me now. There are so many plot holes and inconsistencies that I didn’t realize could even exist and are now in my first draft.
4. Writing is more than inspiration
Now this is one I struggled with. I mean, to continue working on your manuscript, you have to get in the mood and be inspired, right? Wrong. Do you want to know how I finished my novel? I forced myself to write. I wrote when I didn’t want to. I dragged my reluctant self off Pinterest and made myself open up my word document. I hated what I saw as I scrolled down to the page I was working on. I made myself clack the keys, even if it was only to write a couple sentences or a paragraph. And do you know what? It worked. I hated it, but it worked. Like Thomas Edison said, “Genius is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.”
5. It’s okay to not name your characters after friends
So, I have some friends who mean well. They really do. And because of my love for them, I named some characters after them at their pleading. Not necessarily with my friends’ names, but with names similar names or names they picked out. I even created a character or two just so they could be named after a friend. Looking back, I’ve realized that this was a terribly stupid idea. Here’s why:
I just created extra side characters who I would’ve probably deleted in the second draft, as they aren’t necessary to the story at all, except now I’m playing with my friends’ feelings. And, even if I keep the characters, their names–which I thought were great at the time–no longer fit in with the name theme of the story. It just creates problems in general. Now, it is okay to occasionally name characters after friends. For example, in one of my current WIP, there is a character named Lizzie, named after my good friend Liz, who I’ve even considered naming one of my future children partially after. Liz didn’t know I named a character after her, and she wouldn’t have asked me to, anyway, because she’s that type of friend. Lizzie is one of the main characters in said story, and her name completely fits the theme of the book and won’t be changed. I’ve created a rule of thumb for myself: While first drafting, only name characters with names you love, and if named after friends, name them because of friendship, not because they asked you to.
6. Writing injury/sick scenes are HARDDD
Because basically you’re just listing off random things you found on WebMD. “She felt nauseated and had a migraine…” IT’S HARD TO MAKE IT SOUND GOOD, MAN. #whati’mrevisingin2nddraft #showdon’ttell
7. People are realistic and slow to believe in my dreams
So, obviously I already knew this before I really started writing THSM, but this really rocked me the farther I got in. Sometimes it just seemed like the world was out to get me, you know? I’d be having a good day and then somebody would say something about me writing and I’d just be like really? You don’t think I can do this, do you? I can remember times when I felt as if people didn’t believe in me. That they didn’t think I could actually finish my novel, or actually do some good revising, or actually get published. And they wanted me to know they didn’t believe in me. But I’ve finished my first draft. I’m going to do some good revising. I’m going to actually get published (hopefully!). For those who may have doubted me along the way, like I said before, I’m going to blow your socks off. Even if I don’t get published. Because I’m sticking with it. I’m improving, little by little. And, someday, my book is actually going to be good and I look forward to watching all of your guys’ jaws d r o p. 😀
8. Research is crucial
Now, I can understand why I wouldn’t need to research if my debut novel was set in a fictional world or in somewhere familiar, like the Midwestern United States. But no. My *hope-against-hope* debut novel is set in not only a different country, but also on a different continent and a different hemisphere. In other words, my characters are on the other side of the world in a place I’ve never been filled with people and animals I’ve never seen and culture I’ve never experienced. You see my problem? Not to mention it would be helpful to know the geographical structures of the country…In my defense, I started this novel when I was twelve, so I wasn’t exactly thinking ahead, but, looking back, I should’ve researched my novel before I started writing rather than after. If I had, I wouldn’t have so much trouble now, having to *cough cough* Google the country to find out more about it.
9. You can have too many characters
Yep. I messed up. Like, so many people that I, the writer, can barely keep them straight? Annndd the spot where I introduce them all is a MAJOR info dump. Yuck, right? No wonder first drafts are trash.
10. Pinterest is a blessing…and a curse
Because, see, at first you’ve got beautiful character inspiration photos like this….
But then you get addicted to reading writing prompts (and maybe making complete plots out of them…oh wait who does that? Ha ha…) like these:
And then you get addicted to posts like these…when you should be writing
Well, then! That about wraps it up, dearies! Are any of you fiction writers? Can you relate? What is your current status on your WIP? Let me know in the comments!
*All photos are from Pinterest*