I haven’t written about writing in awhile because there hasn’t been a ton to say. When I’m in the middle of pounding out a novel I don’t like to talk about it much, and yet, sometimes it is all I think about. Writing is such an introverted craft. It tugs at all emotion, sometimes trumps all of your tasks for the day, and often causes lack of sleep. I experience all of these things, quietly, on a daily basis.
Back in Jan of 2009 I began writing just for the fun of it, really. I was a closet writer and didn’t tell anyone I was writing–not even my husband–until months later. I was so fearful back then. I felt kind of ridiculous trying to do something serious for the first time at the age of 27. Kind of like learning to ride a bike as an adult. I felt…silly. But I kept going.
In 2011 I finished that novel and pursued publishing with it for a little while. I always felt this thick unease hanging over the entire process, but I just attributed it to anxiety. Submitting your work to actual agents is kind of terrifying. And those rejection letters are not encouraging, by any means. But it was more than that. I knew it just wasn’t right. I had a lot to learn. So, I began reading a ton of books in the YA (Young Adult) genre, since that’s what I tended to write. There was something about that particular audience that intrigued me. New loves, heightened emotions, the desire to stay young and the thrill of what is to come. I read horrendous writing. I read stunning, beautiful writing. I realized it…that pull that was inside of me…was SO much more than the desire to be published. Being published is all WOW! and YES! and FINALLY!, but I want more than that. I want to improve. I want to learn. I want to grow.
I want my writing to be more than enjoyed. I want to leave an impression. I want people to close my books and pause in thought for a good two minutes.
So I stopped pursuing agents, but I kept writing. And reading. And writing. And reading. Over and over. And I am still there.
I decided to use the story I am writing now (it will be 3 books) as my learning tool. My writing is far better now than it was four years ago, but I still have a lot to learn. The urgency I used to feel to get ‘out there’ has begun to dissipate, which is a nice feeling, let me tell you. Now I am committed to the long haul. I know this is not going to be a quick process. Not for me. And I am okay with that now.
This past week I finished the first manuscript for my second novel, which is totally exciting. Punching in that last period was, in itself, a huge sigh of satisfaction. Now I get to do my favorite part: revision. I love revising. It’s my favorite step in the process. It’s that perfect chemical reaction that makes goopy batter into a delicious double chocolate fudge cake. It’s when a novel goes from words on a page to an experience.
(Did someone say cake? Great, now I have to go make a chocolate cake.)
So, it seems I’m averaging a novel every two years. I have one more to go before I take that leap into something I will seriously pursue publishing with. Bestseller by 37? Sounds good to me! Ha!
I have a lot of ideas about what that story will be. Some of those ideas scare me because, deep down, I have a lot I want to say. But as Oscar Wilde once said, “An idea that is not dangerous is unworthy of being called an idea at all.” I even have ideas for children’s books (not YA) that I’m dabbling with as well.
We will just have to see what happens.