I’m back at work on the novel, and have clean laundry for the first time in two weeks! Laugh if you will, but I’ll be wearing my favorite flannel pajamas tonight. 🙂
A few weeks before the anthology workshop I realized that part of the reason I’d signed up was for validation. I like to think I’m a good writer, but writing is a pretty solitary endeavor, and I don’t get much feedback on my unpublished projects. Selling three out of six short stories at the workshop, especially given the quality of the manuscripts submitted, made me feel that my writing is indeed at the level I had hoped it was.
Many years ago I read a book on writing by Orson Scott Card in which he said something that has stuck in my head ever since:
Writers have to simultaneously believe the following two things:
- The story I am now working on is the greatest work of genius ever written in English.
- The story I am now working on is worthless drivel.
(From How to Write Science Fiction and Fantasy by Orson Scott Card.)
If you don’t have confidence in your writing, you’re probably not going to attempt to sell any of it, so no one will ever read it. And if you think everything you write is perfect, you’re probably missing ways in which you can learn and grow and improve your craft.
Over the years I’ve gotten better at knowing when something I’ve written is good and when it needs work. I’ve had many times where I wrote something that I thought was fantastic, then the next time I looked at it I was appalled. Not always, fortunately – sometimes something is good from the start. 🙂 This is part of why I cycle through my manuscripts. I know the mistakes I tend to make, and I know what I usually don’t put in on the first pass and have to add in later.
For example, I have a tendency to write paragraphs and sentences that are too long, and I usually catch these on the second pass. And while I sometimes add sensory details and description in a first draft, I don’t add in as many as I’d like, so I add them when I go over the manuscript again.
This process wouldn’t fit everyone, but it works well for me. When I write a first draft quickly the story usually flows better, whereas if I slow down and fill in things like setting details I’ll often lose my momentum. Not always, but often. So I usually make notes in my manuscript about things I want to correct, details I want to fill in, etc. Here’s what the manuscript for Entangled by Midsummer looks like right now:
The yellow objects are comment balloons (I use Word), and there’s a chunk of purple text where I have a scene that’s way too long and needs to be cut, possibly as much as 50%.
It’s great to be working on the novel again. It felt intimidating when I looked at it yesterday. Novels are big! My head wasn’t in it because the anthology workshop took up so much time over the past few months. But having written one novel, I now know I can do this, so I made myself get to work. It was like riding a bicycle. 🙂 I have a guess as to how much time it will take me to wrap everything up, but after the past 6 months I’ve learned that my time estimates tend to be optimistic, so until I’m a little further along I’m going to try not to think about when I’ll be done.
Speaking of being done, the cover is very, very close. We’re trying out different font colors and background treatments, but the imagery and font faces have been finalized. I love it, and can’t wait to share!