As I continue to write more and more of this novel, the intensity of anxiety I feel changes dramatically. It isn't any pattern, but it follows my mentality. My perception increasingly changes how I feel about the novel and how I write it.
Prior to beginning my novel, I spent a lot of time writing short stories and writing poetry. I wanted to learn how to make every single word count.
I spent a lot of time reading and researching magazines and publications to submit to. I also received a few rejection slips and felt entirely proud that I made it that far.
Feeling satisfied with my first dips back into writing, I set aside the poetry and the short stories to be revised and moved on to flesh out one of my novel ideas.
Prior to beginning my novel, I spent a couple months researching the business. I wanted to make sure I knew what I was getting myself into and what to do when I finally got there. I lingered on editors' blogs, agents' blogs and authors' blogs. I took in every tip, listened to every bit of advice and soaked up everything.
When I wrote my first words of my novel, I realized I was setting off on an entirely new journey unrelated to all of the aforementioned. Speaking with my good friend, we both came to the conclusion that the first hurdle to jump over was finishing a first draft. Forget all notions of a grand career, forget even thinking about how the revision process would go, forget about my crappy synopsis and my nonexistent query letter--just write.
And I did.
I struggled through the battles of knowing whether I was good enough. I fought with my story, wondering if it, too, was good enough. I wrestled with the idea of how long this journey would take, and I constantly weighed the pros and cons.
Now, at a mere 20k words, I can say that the experience has been incredibly rewarding. I have learned so many things.
I'm beginning to understand how to write (almost) lively characters--ones with great personality that leap off of the page. Identifiable characters.
I know that making it to the conclusion of this story is the most important goal to set for myself, and I need to make sure that I can make it to the end telling it as honestly and pure as I can manage. I don't need to juice up my writing with things I don't understand or things I don't really understand just because I've seen someone else do it.
I believe that this is practice. It is a stepping stone to greater things. Finishing a book is amazing, but the journey there is more valuable than anyone will ever know. This book, this lovely book I'm investing my life in, it is practice. The chances this book will see the light of day before my second is slim to none.
Yes, I believe in the story, I believe in the characters, and I believe in my writing ability.
I know, however, I have so much MORE to learn. Things that I can't take notes on--things that happen subconsciously.
I've seen the transformation already. This feeling creeps up sometimes, when I'm really 'on,' and I just KNOW when things are right and when they are wrong. I've cut and rewritten scenes entirely on these feelings--they just don't feel authentic.
I'm remembering what it's like to be excited to write. What it's like to love what I write, and imagine and dream and create it.
It's practice, you know? This novel... it's done more for me than any extra writing class or any 'dummies' book. The advice I've learned from writers, readers, agents and editors is invaluable... but it means nothing until it's put into action.
Somehow, knowing that I don't have to believe this book will be my bread and butter makes the idea of writing it so much more appealing. I can write my best possible novel (at this point in my life) with no pressure.
I like it.
Before I go off to hit my next writing goal, I'd like to point to a great blog entry from Janet Reid (a literary agent) on when it's too soon to query. Check it out.
Love you all. I hope you're off doing something you're passionate about. I'm going to re-read my first-first novel (unfinished at around 23 chapters) that I started writing when I was fourteen. It's horrible, but the passion and inspiration is undeniable. A little jolt of inspiration.