Saturday, October 18, 2014

Writing a Novel Means Hard Work



I do admit that writing and preparing poems and short stories for a collection was hard work. It involves writing enough of each to actually make up a whole book. Then it involves revising each until it's as perfect as I can get it, which doesn't necessarily mean perfect-perfect. Then I needed to submit poems and short stories to journals because having a few already published heightens the attractiveness of a collection for editors. I liked writing short pieces and I lowered my standards, constantly telling myself that with a full time job I didn't have time or energy to write a whole novel, let alone revise it enough times to make it palatable to editors or agents, or even to myself or members of my critique group. So I gave up the idea.

But now I have come back to it. My dream, ambition, goal is to be a published novelist and so the hard work begins. I cannot use time or lack of energy as an excuse anymore. I have to knuckle down and do the work.

Over the past month I have returned to a previous novel that has gone through a few changes but was never finished. Now that I have gone back to it I realize how much fun this is and how much I really want this. Developing characters, scratching out scenes, creating feasible but dramatic plots all amounts to a game I love to play. Why did I ever think I'd be satisfied with anything else?

I read a lot of books on writing and books that proclaim to help me reach my goals and they all make sense and provide good information. I've gotten into daily affirmations, visualization, meditation, goal charts, and every other possible strategy for making this happen. But you know what? None of that works until I buckle down and write. Despite all the valuable information, reading those books and practicing the suggested exercises don't get a novel written.

I've been fortunate to have had a five day weekend and a four day weekend recently and that helped me get a firm hold on writing and a good aim at where the story is going. It's given me some deeper insight to my characters. And I have stacked up 70 some odd pages of a first draft.

This week I go back to a five day work week and writing time will be limited, but I am so invested in this story now that I will make it happen. I will do the work and put in the time. Just like with exercise, diet, and budgeting finances the work must be done. All the meditation in the world, all the minutes spent caressing a chunk of pink quartz crystal that's supposed to imbue me with peace and prosperity, will not write a novel. I have to do the work. I have to write the pages. And that's what I'm doing.

I suggest to you would-be writers of novels that you get a notebook and pen, or boot up your computer and open a blank document and get to work. Just write! The story and characters will come to you. So keep writing till next time when I talk a little about plotting, because at some point you do have to plot that story line.