Sunday, March 21, 2010

Time’s Up

The six-week cooling off period between ending the rough draft of my novel and beginning the rewriting process ended last week. I chose that length of time because it was the minimum recommended by people who should know. I was going to extend it, but I was itching to get back to the project and was running out of ways to avoid writing all the things I was supposed to be writing during the down time.

So I spent this past week re-reading the manuscript and making notes. A lot of notes. I know I was obnoxiously self-congratulatory when I finished the rough draft in 10 weeks, but you can now rest assured I no longer consider it such a momentous feat. Anyone could have done it, honestly. All it amounts to is typing random words every day until you hit 75,000. And that’s what the rough draft looks like, a big pile of random words.

My task now, is to try to make something out of this mountain of rubbish. This is by far the harder task, and it is one I have little experience in. Fortunately, I have a clear idea where I want to go and a road map on how to get there. I’m not saying it won’t lead me down a dead end, but at least, for now, I’m moving forward.

What I’m not going to do is gleefully describe my process and progress. Despite this being a supposed writing blog, I think that would be pointless.

Some time ago I aired my view about blogs being Level I, II or III. I even stopped writing the blog for a while until I arrived at Level II (and then only to announce it) and took it back up with I hit Level III—as a bona fide, published author.

Now, I’m not so sure about the levels, or about me being an author. I’m still thrilled to have a book out, but in my mind, it doesn’t count. And it won’t until I publish a novel. So I am back to thinking of myself as a beginner (which, in this arena, I am) and refraining from giving advice or sharing my methods because, well, who am I? I might be doing this all wrong and that would be doing you a disservice. When I publish a novel, then I can dispense wisdom from my lofty height. ;)

Until then, the best thing I can do is recommend “How Not to Write a Novel” by Sandra Newman and Howard Mittelmark. It is funny, informative and a very good read. I learned a lot from it, between cringing at the mistakes I found out I am making. But it was also inspiring to note that I could generally remember a novel I enjoyed reading that had broken the rule I was reading about.

In writing, the only rule is, there are no rules. But until you become good enough to understand how to bend them to your advantage, it’s best to keep within the guidelines.

Now, if you will excuse me, I have a big pile of words I have to get back to.


  1. Great. I still follow you with great interest. Do you NEVER have self doubt or is it an American thing. I have two fairly long unfinished 'works of art, both still going 'strong' after years not months.

  2. Ken, I am FULL of self-doubt. But I try to not let it hinder me. Here's a quote I found on the Writer's Digest blog:

    When you feel global doubt about your talent, that is your talent. People who have no talent don’t have any doubt. And it’s figuring that out and learning how to put all that stuff behind you and just do the work. --Richard Bausch

  3. If you'll excuse a stranger to you interjecting, I think you're perfectly right in your attitude towards this. It is a completely different journey to the one that your first book took you on, but you have the road map in your hands and there is no reason to suppose that you won't reach your destination successfully. Just keep looking ahead. I wish you well.

  4. Elizabeth, thanks for the kind words.